EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a three-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition established by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), is being managed by Argonne National Laboratory. Students design and build advanced propulsion systems that are based on vehicle categories from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) regulations. They are exploring a variety of cutting-edge, clean vehicle approaches, including full-function electric, range-extended electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell technologies. In addition, students will incorporate lightweight materials into the vehicles, improve aerodynamics, and use alternative fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel, and hydrogen.
University students compete in the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge to create more energy efficient vehicles of the future using a variety of donated hardware and software products.
Three of the competition’s platinum sponsors, dSPACE, National Instruments (NI), and The Math Works, are providing more than $2,300,000 worth of hardware and software tools to help student teams design the green cars of tomorrow.
They are learning real-world automotive engineering practices through the use of Model-Based Design and graphical system design technologies that include hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and software-in-the-loop (SIL) to help students’ vehicle visions materialize from concept to the road.
One of the features of Model-Based Design is real-time simulation. In the competition, it enables the teams to test virtual versions of their vehicles before the actual designs are assembled. Students can integrate what-if scenarios to validate their assumptions in a simulated environment to test hybrid controls strategies using SIL technology from The Math Works and NI.
dSPACE, manufacturer of mechatronic control systems, is contributing tools for embedded software development and testing. They include MicroAutoBox, Rapid Control Prototyping (RCP) systems, HIL simulators, measurement and calibration hardware and software, and autocode generating software.
Throughout the design phase, EcoCAR students use the dSPACE Simulator to test scenarios ranging from testing single engine control units to integration testing of the complete vehicle.
NI is supporting teams by donating more than $300,000 worth of virtual instrumentation hardware and software. The modular, flexible equipment includes LabView graphical system design software, CompactRIO in-vehicle embedded control systems, and PXI modular simulation systems. The teams are using these tools to design, prototype, and deploy their vehicles and tackle algorithm engineering challenges associated with developing advanced hybrid cars.
The Math Works donated software for Model-Based Design, including MATLAB and Simulink. It is also providing intensive training to students and faculty advisors.
The Math Works
Filed Under: Automotive, Green engineering • renewable energy • sustainability, ENGINEERING SOFTWARE, Student programs, Mechatronics