Automotive Testing Technology International Awards 2021 – winners announced!

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The winners of this year’s Automotive Testing Technology International Awards have been revealed. Now in their 15th year, the awards have established themselves as some of the most sought-after accolades in the sector. Despite the unprecedented year that is now behind us, there has been no shortage of innovation across the industry. That meant competition was fierce and tallying up the scores truly raised a pulse. Read on to find out the proud winners of the international accolades.

Engine Test Facility of the Year
Winner: Intertek – Global Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence, UKFour pioneering facilities qualified for this award, each unique and worthy in its own right. However, it was Intertek’s state-of-the-art alternative powertrain engineering center in Milton Keynes, UK, that took
the top honors. This exciting new facility features a range of EV propulsion test cells including electric axle module test rigs, a 1.2MW full vehicle test chamber (one of only four facilities of its kind in Europe), three e-motor dyno rigs, specialist e-machine development rigs, and R&D capabilities such as an in-house-designed e-motor fluids research rig. With equipment that can operate at speeds of up to 27,000rpm, Intertek’s global EV hub is designed to be a one-stop shop for automotive manufacturers, encompassing motors, inverters, axle modules, all onboard vehicle electrical systems and complete electric vehicle evaluation facilities. 

As jury member Alex Grant put it, “Intertek’s test center impresses for its adaptability. It offers a wide range of tools and equipment on one site, aimed at accelerating development of electric powertrains, with the ability to relocate some systems to customers’ facilities where necessary. The site is also designed with low power consumption in mind, which is an increasingly important topic.” 

Vehicle consultant and ATTI juror David Twohig summed it up: “An impressive addition to the UK’s capability of developing advanced EVs. What I particularly like about this facility is that it can offer services to traditional OEMs and also to smaller startup EV makers that may need a more ‘turnkey’ or ‘one-stop-shop’ type solution.”

Shortlisted:
• SEAT – Powertrain Development Centre, Spain
• Mahle – test bench for electric drives, Germany
• Drive System Design – commercial vehicle expansion, UK

Crash Test Innovation of the Year
Winner: Siemens Digital Industries Software – Simcenter Madymo

Siemens Digital Industries Software – Simcenter MadymoCompetition in this category was fierce as the judges were looking for the technology that has not only done the most to enhance the crash test process but has also improved the fidelity and accuracy of results. In the end, Siemens pipped its fellow nominees to the title, with version 2020.1 of Simcenter Madymo. 

The update includes a revolutionary enhancement to the Restart functionality, enabling simulations to be apportioned into pre-crash and crash phases. Since the pre-crash phase often needs to be run just once and is usually significantly longer than the crash phase, this development can save as much as 90% in a typical simulation runtime.

Furthermore, users can now leverage the databases from Tecnomatix Jack, which have been applied in Simcenter Madymo to create a cutting-edge scaling capability. The new scaling tool enables users to scale with 12 population databases, including Chinese, German, Korean and Japanese. This removes the need
to make modifications before and after the model is scaled, such as changing the shoe mass. The whole scaling process is now possible with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

Finally, Simcenter Madymo’s dummy models now conform to Euro NCAP TB024 guidelines – an exceptionally useful characteristic when assessing pedestrian safety systems that must conform to this standard.  

“Siemens takes top honors for the latest updates to its solver, which offer impressive streamlining potential for the day-to-day processes of crash simulation. It reduces the need for time-consuming calculations to be repeated, and offers a very broad selection of human models and the latest Euro NCAP dummy models, which can be integrated quickly into testing,” said awards juror and ATTI correspondent Alex Grant.

Shortlisted:
• Ernst – Mobile Crashblock
• UTAC – Euro NCAP sled test facility, France
• Shanghai Motor Vehicle Inspection Certification & Tech Innovation Center, China

Hardware Innovation of the Year
Winner: Viscoelasticity Evaluation System Evolved (VESevo)

Viscoelasticity Evaluation System Evolved (VESevo)Created by VESevo, this unique tire testing device, which is also called VESevo, is said to take an unprecedented approach to non-destructive tire testing and characterization. After several years in development, the tool became commercially available in 2021. 

VESevo was conceived with the aim of analyzing the tire’s tread viscoelasticity, overcoming the usual issues related to the removal of samples, which make them unusable. This type of information makes it possible to predict the behavior of the tire and the whole vehicle in variable operating conditions and progressive wear conditions. As the viscoelastic properties of tires are still not well understood, the hardware has been welcomed by the tire and automotive industry. 

As awards judge and ATTI correspondent Marc Noordeloos affirmed, “VESevo’s device is yet another reminder of the development advantages of motorsport in the tire world. The ability to analyze viscoelasticity and predict tire behavior is key in the world of racing and will surely be a huge advantage to future tire development for road cars.” 

International players in motorsport and the tire industry currently use VESevo’s device. In less than a year since its launch, it has been adopted by five Formula 1 teams, four Formula E teams, two MotoGP teams and one NASCAR team.

Shortlisted:
• AB Dynamics – Guided Soft Target 120
• CSM – HV Breakout Module 3.3
• Messring – M=Sled Modular
• Volvo – Ultimate Driving Simulator

Software Innovation of the Year
Winner: Porsche Digital – Sounce 

Porsche Digital – Sounce This year’s worthy winner of the Software Innovation of the Year accolade was selected due to its cutting-edge capability to provide real-time noise reduction through artificial intelligence – augmenting diagnostics and acoustics test tasks. The innovative tech, named Sounce, is a digital assistant that works by supporting human perception of sounds during noise analysis. It uses deep learning to reliably and precisely detect noises emitted from vehicles during vehicle component tests, for example. This takes the strain off development engineers in particular, who usually must be present throughout such tests. Sounce also makes error documentation more precise and simplifies root cause analysis. Porsche says that the technology, which is based on the principle of anomaly detection, can be applied to various applications, such as test situations where a large number of different acoustic signals make analog analysis difficult via the human ear.

Shortlisted:
• AVL – Lab Management for Battery
• Ansys – 2021 R1
• Solid Sands – SuperGuard C Library Safety Qualification Suite
• Siemens – Virtual Prototype Assembly

Person of the Year
Winner: Mike Anderson, executive director of global virtual design, development and validation, General Motors

Mike Anderson, executive director of global virtual design, development and validation, General Motors

In April this year, GM announced that the Cadillac Lyriq – its first all-electric SUV – was debuting nine months ahead of schedule. This impressive feat is said to have been thanks to the company’s virtual testing and validation work, led by Mike Anderson. It signifies a turning point in GM’s development process as the OEM continues with its mission to evolve its global development methods through the use of virtual engineering and simulation tools. 

According to the automotive manufacturer, several elements of the Lyriq program were enhanced as a direct result of simulation testing and verification: cabin comfort for passengers in cold and hot environments; advanced aerodynamics to help maximize range and on-road performance; aeroacoustics and active road noise cancellation for a more enjoyable ride; driver assistance and active safety features for peace of mind; and protection of the Ultium battery in a wide variety of collision scenarios.

As demonstrated by Lyriq, the process of virtual design, development and validation has a profound impact on the overall efficiency of GM vehicle programs. Implementing the tools early in the development process enables a vehicle’s design, quality and performance to be honed within the confines of a digital environment, enabling GM to expedite product development cycles while reducing engineering costs by US$1.5bn per year. 

Jury member and manager of Energy Balance Phil Morse said, “Mike Anderson is not simply aspiring to inject virtual validations into GM’s development programs for the general good – he’s pushing his teams to actually achieve virtual sign-offs, which is significantly reducing time-to-market across multiple product lines. Before trying to place a value on that none-too-small achievement, there’s more: the same simulation and virtual testing that’s reducing GM’s development timescales is also delivering better cars into the marketplace because engineers are empowered and encouraged to explore more what-ifs than ever before.”

Shortlisted:
• Dr Oliver Röcker, chief engineer EQS/EQE, Mercedes-Benz
• Casper Wickman, senior technical leader, human-centric methods and tools, Volvo Cars
• Richie Frost, CEO, Sprint Power

Proving Ground of the Year
Winner: Nardò Technical Center (NTC), Italy


It has been a productive year for the team at the NTC. Recent track renovations include an upgrade to one of the dynamic platforms into a ‘smart dynamic area’, which is now completely covered by a high-speed connection for ADAS (V2X) and HAD testing. Development and homologation of CAVs can be conducted thanks to a structured system of directional antennas for wireless connectivity and electric charges. The NTC has purchased a raft of new items for simulating an urban environment. Track improvements for highway pilot testing have been implemented. On the inner circular track, 48km of new road markings have been laid to replicate a three-lane motorway to EU and US standards. A new lighting system on the noise track area enables 24-hour testing. Finally, high-power charging stations rated to 800V and 350kW have been installed. 

To enhance safety across the proving ground, a floodable container has been introduced to quarantine HEVs and Li-ion batteries in risky conditions. Equipped with smoke and optical flame detectors, telephone alarm transmission and a powerful flooding system and sprinkler appliance, the device can extinguish
a fire, achieving complete flooding in around 15 minutes. Furthermore, adjustments to the existing fire test site now enable analysis of Li-ion batteries according to European (UNECE 100) and Chinese standards (GB38031).

Other safety upgrades include a special automatic opening barrier between the outer and inner circular tracks. Thanks to its position by the first aid station, this remote-controlled gate facilitates and accelerates rescue operations by enabling rescue teams to access the 12.6km track from an intermediate position and pass from one track to the other quickly. It enables quick removal of debris in the event of an incident, so testing activities can be resumed more quickly. Video control systems have been installed at the track entrances, and the NTC video surveillance system has been expanded to cover a wider area. A new track
access management system has also been put in place.

In 2021, the NTC set a milestone in its energy transition. As of this year, its power supply is 100% renewable. It also achieved ISO 50001 certification, which recognizes its commitment to continual improvement of its energy performance, and ISO 14064 certification for the quantification and disclosure of data on its carbon footprint measurement. Finally, an integrated management system has been established in the areas of quality, environment, safety and energy, in accordance with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 5001.

Shortlisted:
• Horiba MIRA, UK
• AstaZero, Sweden
• UTAC, France, Finland, UK
• Australian Automotive Research Centre, Australia

Company of the Year
Winner: Intertek

All category winners, with the exception of Person of the Year, are eligible for the overall Company
of the Year award. For 2021, this coveted title has gone to Intertek in recognition of its remarkable new global EV development center in Milton Keynes, UK. This facility, which will ultimately enable OEMs to build better electric vehicles, is outfitted with a range of high-tech test rigs with specially designed features that streamline the analysis process. These unique innovations are said to enable a quicker turnaround time and showcase the company’s capabilities in fabricating bespoke solutions that answer customer and industry demands. 

Shortlisted:
• Intertek
• Siemens
• VESevo
• Porsche Digital
 • Nardò Technical Center 

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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. 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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