Automotive Testing Expo Europe 2019 exhibitor Q&A: Mat Hubbard, AB Dynamics

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The company’s chief technical officer reveals details of a new LaunchPad it is developing for commercial vehicle evaluation 

AB Dynamics is a long-time exhibitor at Automotive Testing Expo Europe. How has the company developed over the years?

We’ve enjoyed significant growth and gained an excellent reputation in the industry. We’re now firmly established as one of the world’s most trusted suppliers of automotive test systems, continually expanding our product offering to cater for everything from durability testing to precision control for new areas of technology development. We’ve invested heavily in people and facilities to provide a first-class service too, including the creation of our purpose-built, 39,000ft² (11,800m²) headquarters in 2017. Considering we can trace our roots to working out of our founder’s front room, it’s quite something, but in the last few years we’ve certainly seen the most growth as the demand for ADAS and AV testing has increased. We now also cover all three areas of vehicle testing; lab, track and simulation.

What automotive testing projects or initiatives is the company particularly proud to have been involved in?

We’re immensely proud of all that we have achieved since we began in 1982, seeing our suite of products substantially grow to meet customers’ ever-changing automotive testing requirements. Ultimately, we’re particularly pleased to be a trusted supplier to the top 25 global vehicle manufacturers and all eight Euro NCAP laboratories. Highlights have also included delivering our 1,000th steering robot, with the very first one also still functioning perfectly after 20 years’ use. We have also developed a next-generation driving simulator, the aVDS (advanced Vehicle Driving Simulator), which is key to providing qualitative feedback as the industry more widely adopts simulation for the testing and development of vehicles.

What projects are on the horizon for AB Dynamics? Anything that you can share without compromising any NDAs?

Mat Hubbard, CTO, AB DynamicsNaturally, and in line with our clients’ changing needs, we’re always developing our product offering – whether it’s re-developing existing equipment to suit different applications or designing brand-new testing equipment from the ground up.

For example, we are looking into a version of LaunchPad – our low-profile platform which is designed to carry Vulnerable Road User (VRU) targets – that is angled toward use with commercial vehicles. We are also working directly with customers to streamline development by enabling millions of complex tests to be carried out through simulation.

What technology, product or service are you most excited about showcasing this year and why?

We are launching two new products at this year’s show – the Ground Traffic Control (GTC) system and our rig for measuring axle-level NVH, the ANVH 250. We’re particularly excited about sharing these because they provide solutions to disrupting trends in vehicle design and testing.

The GTC enables and streamlines the control of all proving ground traffic and infrastructure, which is essential for creating complex testing scenarios for autonomous vehicle testing. We’ll be undertaking live demonstrations of the GTC at the expo.

Our ANVH 250 provides a market-leading operating frequency range of excitations to test subjects through the use of a novel linear electric actuator. It enables vehicle manufacturers to ascertain NVH issues earlier in the design process, saving time and cost. This is especially useful in the testing of electrified vehicles where NVH acceptance levels are decreased because of the lack of engine noise.

We will have key people involved in the development of each product at the show.

What can visitors to Automotive Testing Expo Europe 2019 expect from AB Dynamics’ live demos?

Our demos will only take a few minutes, but visitors will be able to fully experience and appreciate how seamlessly our products work and the meticulous development behind them. Our experts will be on hand to guide visitors through our equipment and answer any queries, so we expect visitors to leave our stand with an excellent understanding of what drives AB Dynamics and why the world’s leading automotive manufacturers choose us for their testing equipment. For GTC, we’ll be demonstrating its merits in a simulation of a typical AV testing scenario that incorporates multiple elements.

What most excites you about automotive testing in this day and age?

We’re in an age of extraordinary advances in automotive technology and it’s exciting to see how our industry is adapting to accommodate these seismic changes. The sheer pace at which the industry and its testing solutions is developing is incredible.

What is the biggest testing challenge currently facing the automotive industry and what can AB Dynamics do to help overcome it?

The most exciting things happening to the industry also present the most challenges. The growing trend for electrified vehicles and those with an element of automation, both place extra demands on testing. There’s also the increased time and cost implications that arise with more involved and complicated testing. We consider the whole picture, creating solutions that accurately and reliably deliver the required results for a testing scenario, but which also work to make the whole process as efficient, user-friendly and future-proof as possible.

How will automotive testing have changed by 2030 and how does AB Dynamics plan on staying ahead of the curve?

Whether vehicles will still have a steering wheel and pedals in 2030 remains to be seen, but either way, the fundamentals of vehicle testing, such as ride and durability, will remain a constant. We imagine that automotive testing will only grow more complex as the technology in vehicles becomes more advanced. For example, with semi-autonomous vehicles it’s not just determining how they react in certain scenarios on the road, but you also need to consider such things as what happens when the vehicle hands back control to the driver – the possible situations to think about are near endless.

As a result, simulation will become an even more important part of testing thanks to its combination of efficiency, accuracy and repeatability. However, the simulation cannot be correlated without data from the road and proving ground. So, like a three-legged stool, each area of testing will remain critical to success. This is why AB Dynamics has developed an integrated approach to vehicle development and a suite of products covering laboratory, road and virtual testing.

Automotive Testing Expo Europe 2019 takes place May 21, 22, 23 at Messe Stuttgart, Germany. AB Dynamics will be exhibiting at booth 8314.

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Rachel's career in journalism has seen her write for various titles at UKi Media & Events within automotive, tire and marine. Currently editor of ATTI, her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of transportation.

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