New vehicle dynamics simulator installed at FCA in North America

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Tony Mancina, director of engineering at the Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor Ontario, highlights some of features of an all-new advanced vehicle driving simulator

The FCA Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC) has inaugurated its new US$10.1m CAD vehicle dynamics simulator (VDS) lab, which houses what is claimed to be the most advanced driving simulator technology available in North America.

“Our new VDS is cutting-edge technology that emulates a vehicle’s driving dynamics in a real time, virtual environment. This new technology offers the driver a customized virtual immersion that replicates the ride and handling of a specific vehicle on a multitude of simulated road surfaces and driving environments,” said Tony Mancina, head of engineering at FCA Canada.

The VI-grade system has nine actuators to create additional ranges of motion, replicating real life more realistically. Another notable feature of the new VDS is the three-micron cushion of air, which floats the entire 4.5 metric ton motion platform above the floor like a hovercraft, enabling quiet and seamless motion on the electric actuators.

The simulator can be fitted with any vehicle body, road and environment; subsystems such as brake and steering, ABS and ESC can be hooked up to create a hardware-in-the-loop test bench. To create the visuals that are projected on the five screens, data is collected by scanning the environment and roads. It is then stitched together to create a real-time virtual environment that can include elevation changes, off-camber roads and potholes.

“The ability to simulate a drive experience with hardware-in-the-loop is key to our engineering efforts and assists in identifying design changes much earlier in the development process,” said Rob Wichman, head of FCA vehicle engineering.

“By using simulators, we can create a virtual environment to assess the ride and handling of a vehicle, perform tests on sensor technology for ADAS applications, evaluate different human machine interface (HMI) configurations, and test for driver distraction and distraction remedies.”

Initially, the VDS will support chassis vehicle dynamics work, but will also be used in the development and testing of ADAS and HMI systems.

The facility was partly funded by the Ontario government through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. 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 the automotive and tire industries.

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