Automotive Testing Expo Novi 2019: Show report

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The 2019 edition of Automotive Testing Expo in Novi, Michigan once again provided the perfect platform for OEMs and Tier 1s to discover the very latest test, development, validation and calibration technologies from more than 370 exhibitors.

Over 5,000 visitors made their way to the Suburban Collection Showplace over the full three days of the show (October 22-24, 2019) in search of solutions to take their testing programs forward, while also networking with industry peers and discovering potential new partners.

Across the floor, exhibitors presented new products for every type of vehicle testing imaginable. This ranged from NVH testing – with a new sound meter from Brüel & Kjaer and specialized data acquisition equipment from Vibration Research on display – to the latest equipment for the validation and calibration of ADAS, emissions and powertrain testing, and vehicle dynamics tuning.

Product debuts

Propulsion and driveline testing systems specialist Millbrook Revolutionary Engineering Inc shared details of its brand-new electric vehicle test facility for the San Francisco Bay area. The new facility will enable Millbrook Revolutionary Engineering Inc to offer more effective powertrain development support, create extra capacity and enable rapid introduction of new powertrain test capabilities.

Millbrook California test facility“The purpose of the new facility was to encompass the types of testing we were seeing being shipped to us here locally in Detroit,” explained Michael Czubaj, director of MRE global sales. “So, taking that [to the West Coast]saves our customers out there the time and energy of having to bring their engineers and technicians to us. We went to them so they could remain local. With the way the market was going, we recognized it made sense to have both locations. And as [the industry]started expanding electrification into axles, we were uniquely situated with the customer base for testing as well as building test systems.”

In addition to electrified drivetrain testing, the new facility will offer vehicle-in-the-loop capabilities and battery simulation to 1,000V DC and 1,200A DC peak. This will enable customers to perform complex integration testing and to validate electrified powertrain components, laid-out powertrains and electric vehicles. The facility is designed for maximum flexibility and will be equipped with high-speed motors up to 20,000rpm, allowing for tests of electric motors and inverters or standalone drivetrain components.

A new generation of crash-test dummies designed specifically for autonomous vehicles was presented by Humanetics Innovative Solutions Inc. The anthropomorphic test devices collect data relating to AV driver and passenger positioning.

“In the past, dummies have always been positioned driving in a vehicle,” says Dennis Berryman, technical sales specialist. “But autonomous vehicles, where the driver doesn’t have to be actively engaged in driving the vehicle, have introduced different seating configurations. The driver could be in a reclined position or not even facing the roadway. So, it’s a new trend for us, developing these dummies specifically for these scenarios,” he continued.

Humanetics Testing Expo Novi

“Everyone has a different answer to how far away we are from total automotive autonomy but we’re definitely in the middle of it happening,” says Berryman. “It’s going to take time but we’re staying ahead of the curve and being prepared to meet the needs of our customers.”

The main change in the dummy design is the sensor positioning: “With the AV dummy it’s a different data set that you need to collect, and the traditional dummies don’t really meet those needs,” explained Berryman. “The data points from a reclined position would be different to data points from sitting upright in the normal driving position. The AV dummies are designed with the sensors to collect more of the data that we traditionally didn’t need to collect.”

FT Techno of America publicized a new addition to its 9,550-acre Fowlerville Proving Ground facility, specifically designed for ADAS and AV testing. The new section includes city and rural intersections, roundabout and multipurpose pad, and configurable, timed V2X traffic signals – all of which allow customers to create real-life scenarios.

“Our decision to build the ADAS facility was based on many factors, including industry trends, demand from our existing customers and interest from prospective future customers,” noted Mike Benjamin, senior manager, operations.

FT Techno Testing Expo Novi“Clearly, there has been a growing need in our industry to accommodate more specialized advanced safety and autonomous vehicle development, but what is not yet clear is the exact test environment required to meet this need. We know that the real world offers infinite challenges and unique scenarios for AVs, and it would be impossible to predict or recreate them all. So, we collaborated with our customers and other industry partners to identify their core needs while being mindful that we should also maximize the value of the existing proving ground,” continued Benjamin.

“As industry and regulatory requirements evolve over time, we have set aside additional property inside our oval track to streamline future expansion of the ADAS facility. As a result, we have a unique, independent proving ground located in the heart of the auto industry that allows for traditional vehicle development, plus flexible ADAS testing in a carefully managed, safe and secure environment.”

Michigan Scientific Corporation debuted its latest improvement in wheel force transducer testing – its new Stator Angle Correction (SAC) device prevents steered wheel errors and provides superior accuracy for position referencing.

“In the past, customers had to make custom rackets over the wheel to prevent an error from the rod tipping as they used the wheel force transducer in steering maneuvers,” said Andrew Cook, vice president, Michigan Scientific Corporation. “But this SAC measures the angle of the rod and corrects for it, preventing any errors.”

Sound and vibration specialist Brüel & Kjær (now part of HBM) presented its first new sound level meter in 14 years at Automotive Testing Expo Novi 2019. The B&K 2245 is a complete solution for basic noise measurements and is designed to be intuitive and versatile. It can be used as a standalone noise measurement device, or with a range of mobile apps, each tailored to assist with a specific job such as environmental noise measurement, exhaust noise level testing or workplace noise.

Brüel&Kjær Testing Expo Novi“It has full interconnectivity between mobile devices,” noted Jim Weir, product manager of handheld products, Brüel & Kjær. “You can use it remotely, for example in the cab of a vehicle, and make measurements outside of the cab or any other test area where you might have need of remote.”
He continued: “The response from customers at the show has been really good. And of course, North America is leading sales worldwide right now so we’re expecting a lot more.”

Vibration Research displayed its ObserVR1000 Dynamic Signal Analyzer – a compact, portable device designed to simplify the field recording of vibration data.

“It’s a battery-powered unit that can measure multiple sources of noise and is easily controlled by the VR Mobile smartphone app or the ObserVIEW software running on a tablet or PC,” noted Jared Van Baren, marketing manager. “The software allows you to watch a live graph of what you’re recording, and you can sync GoPros and GPS tracking for the most complete reports.”

Capable of autonomous operation, the ObserVR1000 is easily configured using the auto-TEDS feature, which detects sensors automatically, helping to eliminate setup errors and reduce setup time. “The ObserVR1000 is a starting pointing for big companies; Ford, for instance, has a few of them,” continued Van Baren. “It enables them to go out and collect field data, analyze it with the ObserVIEW software, snip it, compress it, combine it and replay it on the shakers in their labs.”

Cambustion Ltd announced its Catalytic Stripper Accessory (CSA) for use with the company’s DMS500 fast particulate analyzer. The new CSA removes volatile particles from engine exhaust gases, as required for particle number measurements in Euro VI legislation.

“With the CSA the DMS500 presents a powerful and flexible research tool,” said Jamie Parnell, applications engineer, Cambustion Ltd. “[The CSA] is capable of measuring all particles, or just the solid ones, in terms of size distribution, number and mass, with the fastest available response time. It maintains the time response of the DMS500 – less than 300ms with a 7m sample line – while fully integrating with the DMS500 and its existing well-established heated sampling line and fully integrated dilution.”

Cambustion Testing Expo NoviThe CSA can be used with minimal dilution for maximum sensitivity at low emission levels, and solid particle loss is kept to a minimum by rapid transit through the sampling system. “Overall dilution and solid particle loss are automatically corrected for,” continued Parnell. “The CSA can of course be easily bypassed when required in order to measure all particles.”

Open resource

Once again the Expo included a free-to-attend Open Technology Forum, conveniently located on the show floor, with presentations from key speakers such as Kurt Munson from HBM Prenscia, who revealed how engineers can do more with bus data, and Phil Roberts and Steve Whelan from Horiba Mira, who shared how to develop and calibrate vehicles to do well in RDE testing.

Meanwhile Martin Gubow, an automotive and energy solution digital planner at Keysight Technologies and Curtis Donahue from the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory introduced the testing requirements for automotive Ethernet, while discussing transmitter testing, receiver testing and channel characterization.

Live Demo Day

An exciting new addition for the 2019 show saw an exclusive Live Demo Day at the American Center for Mobility on the Friday immediately following the show. Some of the best and latest AV testing technology was put through its paces across ACM’s extensive facilities, which include a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700ft curved tunnel, six by six intersection and two double overpasses incorporating public and private roadways.

AB Dynamics at ACM live demo dayThe roster of companies that demonstrated their latest AV and ADAS test solutions included AB Dynamics, AVL, Keysight, Humanetics and S-E-A, Moshon Data, New Eagle, Racelogic and Schaeffler Group USA Inc.

Visitor testimonials

“I’ve enjoyed it so far. A big reason I came out here was for the testing equipment side of the business, but it gives me an opportunity to get exposure to the interiors side as well, which is pretty neat.” Steve Davis, Engineer, GM

“I’m here mainly for the electrical component testing and to discover what new features and functionality the test equipment has. The show is very big and has grown a lot compared to when I was here last, so there’s a lot to cover.” Muhammad Turjo, technical specialist, GM

“Coming here is a good way to stay up to date on what’s going on in the industry and I like having the variety of the Testing, Autonomous and Interiors Expo, all in one spot. There’s very good representation here with plenty of different manufacturers. I’m pretty familiar with most of them by now, but if there’s somebody I need to talk to I know I can usually see them here. That makes it a good natural meeting point to touch base with suppliers.” Ryan Stabel, Engineer, Continental

“I install testing equipment for Toyota in Ann Arbor. I found some really cool connectors for engines – I install dynamometers so it’s been very useful.” David Zaleski, Project Manager, Toyota

“We’re working on autonomous vehicles and we have a lot of demand for track testing, so we’re interested to see what’s available with the testing sites and the different systems. In our region, this the best show for us to come to.” Murilo Duarte, AV Driving Character Engineer, Ford Motor Company

“I’ve been at the show for three days and it has been very interesting. The quantity of companies for me is impressive. It’s my first time, but the expo has been ahead of expectations. I would completely recommend my colleagues to attend next year.” Carlos Nerini, Vehicle Dynamics Consultant & Researcher/Vehicle Dynamics Applied Researcher, Areste Berta and University of Buenos Aires

Automotive Testing Expo will return to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI, USA on October 27, 28, 29, 2020.

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With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for multiple, market-leading titles at UKi Media & Events (publisher of Automotive Testing Technology International), one of the UK's fastest growing publishing companies, Anthony has written articles and news covering everything from aircraft, airports and cars, to cruise ships, trains, trucks and even tires!

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