How to harness driver-in-the-loop simulators

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Don’t get left behind: Why incorporating next-gen driving simulators in vehicle development programs is crucial

A fierce race is taking place between automotive OEMs. With impending legislation banning ICE sales, the rise of EV startups, along with customer demand for tomorrow’s tech today, there is a huge need to bring new products to market as swiftly as possible.

Speed is of the essence – and driver-in-the-loop simulators lie at the very heart of the matter. By no means a new development tool, OEMs have been employing driving simulators for years. Indeed, a large brand may have multiple simulators, each optimized for different development areas.

What is changing is driving simulator capability, enabling an automotive manufacturer to do things it has never done before, slashing development time and cost. With ongoing supply chain issues delaying physical prototype creation, risk is also reduced too, while this greater capability also results in a better overall product.

One of the biggest areas where simulators offer a quantum leap is at the intersection between ride quality evaluation and NVH. Until now, no simulator has enabled engineers to effectively develop a car digitally in these two areas.

Dynisma’s DMG system can provide feedback to the test driver within 3ms to 5ms: literally an order of magnitude less than some of the competition. It’s this minimization of latency that is so important.

The next benefit is providing the full range of frequency content that would be experienced in the real vehicle. Many simulators can cover 15Hz to 20Hz capturing the natural body modes of the car itself, but this isn’t enough, because what gets overlooked is the amount of high frequency content which, while attenuated by the suspension, does pass through it to the body and the driver.

Dynisma’s driver-in-the-loop simulators provide accurate motion up to 100Hz, well into the human auditory range, providing important NVH cues. For example, if a test driver runs over a cat’s eye – an event duration of less than 20ms at the wheel – our simulator can deliver the correct short, sharp jolt so crucial to ride evaluation.

A lot of simulators also tend to be constantly correcting motion errors, resulting in a ride that transitions between being uncannily lifeless and unrealistically harsh. We’ve worked very carefully to give a smoother feeling, representative of a real vehicle, rather than a jerky and noisy machine.

As a result, experienced ride and handling engineers tell us DMG “feels like a real car” finally giving the accurate feedback they require, simulating the full frequency range an OEM is focusing on.

When it comes to EVs, this is even more crucial, where events that were previously drowned out by the ICE are brought to the fore. Add in increased vehicle weight and changes to architecture and tire behavior and there is a new science around re-optimizing ride and NVH for an electric car.

DIL simulators such as Dynisma’s are so capable that an OEM can dramatically delay the point at which it needs to build prototypes. With some new car development programs requiring up to 100 different prototypes, each of which can come with a seven-figure price tag, it doesn’t take long for a simulator to pay for itself.

But that leads to another key decision. With vehicle programs typically taking three to five years, manufacturers who aren’t already factoring the latest driving simulator technology into development programs need to do so now – or risk being left behind.

By enabling an OEM to carry out more development in the digital world – providing complete repeatability, total safety, not to mention significant cost savings – a simulator is vital, and the wonderful thing is that we’ve not even scratched the surface of what our technology can do. The race is on!

To learn more about the technicalities of driver-in-the-loop simulators, see the September 2022 issue of ATTI here.

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