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Two of the major focuses of the EcoCAR Challenge have been Model-Based Design and Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation. These techniques allow teams to test everything from failures to fuel economy using a virtual vehicle model. They also help to ensure that a robust, reliable and safe control system makes its way into the car.

Throughout the past semester, several members of the University of Victoria EcoCAR Controls Team worked diligently to improve their HIL system, taking advantage of EcoCAR sponsor dSPACE’s advanced Automotive Simulation Models. The team’s upgraded model accurately represents the real vehicle from the ignition and body roll, right down to the frictional forces between the tires and the road. This work has already paid dividends, allowing the team to accurately test their real-time optimization strategy before making any updates to the vehicle. The new model and preliminary on-road testing also confirmed that UVic’s EcoCAR will be capable of 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) in about 7.5 seconds, as predicted back in Year One!

Check out the video below to see the UVic team’s model running a 0-100 km/h test on dSPACE MotionDesk Software. Don’t let the default car body in the video fool you, ‘under the hood’ is UVic’s model and just like the real car, it is fast!

We are pleased to announce four new award opportunities made possible by EcoCAR Platinum Sponsors dSPACE, National Instruments, MathWorks and Freescale Semiconductor! The awards are designed to showcase exceptional ways the EcoCAR teams use the sponsors’ technologies, and as a result, successfully advance in the competition. Here’s an overview of the new awards:

  • dSPACE Embedded Success Award. The award will be granted to the teams that have effectively utilized dSPACE Hardware-in-the-Loop technology for controls/diagnostics development and validation in preparation for the Year Two vehicle testing. 
  • National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Graphical System Design Award. The award will be given to the team that demonstrates the most innovative use of National Instruments tools during the vehicle development cycle.
  • MathWorks Modeling Award. The award will be granted to the top three teams that best apply the core concepts of Model-Based Design with  the MathWorks tools to help achieve the overall competition objectives.
  • Freescale Semiconductor Innovation Award. The award will be granted to the team with the most innovative use of controls and electronics to give its EcoCAR a competitive advantage.  

The teams must notify the competition organizers by April 30, 2010 if they wish to participate. Only a couple weeks left to showcase how your EcoCAR team stands out from the pack! Check back for the winner’s listing in May.

After a great finish in last year’s competition, Ohio State continues to lead the Hardware in the Loop (HIL) development in Year 2 with a first place finish in the HIL Evaluation event that took place at the EcoCAR Winter Workshop in January! This presentation was a technical demonstration of the team’s continued development with its HIL setup.

HIL enables OSU to develop its vehicle much faster and with less software development required once the vehicle is put together. This is because HIL allows the team to develop and test its software in parallel with its physical vehicle integration. In fact, they think using HIL methodology for vehicle development is so effective that they teamed up with EcoCAR and their HIL sponsor, dSPACE, to film a video about it. 

John Kruckenberg, OSU's controls team leader, sitting next to the team's HIL set up

The OSU video discusses the control challenges of developing a vehicle and illustrates the state-of-the-art hardware and techniques the team uses to solve engineering problems. The team explains its progression from mathematical models to lab-based tests with HIL, then to in-vehicle testing of its vehicle software, and finally taking its vehicle results back to the HIL bench for continued improvement. The video also highlights the team’s use of HIL for failure simulation, since testing for faults in a lab-bench environment is much safer than doing all of their fault analysis in the vehicle! Team members discuss their use of automated testing, which allows them to create a standard series of tests for validation of each new software release.

The OSU team would like to thank dSPACE for its sponsorship and support! The team’s success would not be possible without dSPACE’s extensive contributions and dedicated support! Take a look at how OSU takes HIL to the next level in the video below:

The scores are in and have been tallied!  After a grueling year and a half of development, culminating at the Year 2 Winter Workshop  in Daytona Beach, FL, we are proud to announce the winners of the award for best Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) design – a rapid control system testing technology that helps take the team’s vehicle designs from concept to reality.

The winners for best HIL design are:

All the submissions were very impressive and the judging process was not easy. The HIL designs are central to the EcoCAR Challenge and each team’s success. Congratulations to the winners and all the outstanding work in the competition so far!

The winners for Web site design are:

See you at the Year Two Finals!

Controls team members Andrew Blazek and Zhenhua Zhu practice their Hardware-in-the-Loop demonstration

The West Virginia University EcoCAR team recently returned from the Winter Workshop in Daytona Beach, Florida, where they showcased their Hardware-in-the-Loop design and team Web site at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the Daytona International Speedway.

“Presenting our Web site and outreach report to the judges was a great learning experience and something that will definitely benefit me in my career,” said Cate Mihelic, a WVU team member.

The workshop also gave the team an opportunity to meet industry experts from dSPACE, National Instruments, General Motors and Argonne National Laboratory.

WVU EcoCAR team members are now ready to devote their spring semester to working on their vehicle and preparing technical and outreach reports for the final competition in Yuma, AZ and San Diego, CA.

“We are serious about this competition,” said Brody Conklin, the WVU engineering team leader. “We performed well in Daytona and I think our team has a strong work ethic that will lead to success in May!”

The WVU EcoCAR team at the Sponsor Social at Daytona International Speedway

The University of Wisconsin team returned to Madison today after five days in snowy Daytona Beach, Florida with new skills to prepare them for the final EcoCAR judging in May.

Last Wednesday, the team visited the Embry-Riddle EcoEagle Green Garage to use National Instruments’ Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) technology to develop a vehicle simulation model. National Instruments representatives were on hand to work with the teams and answer last minute questions.

An EcoCAR vehicle on display at the Speedway!

The workshop kicked off on Thursday and the Wisconsin team presented its outreach events and communication plan for Year Two as well as its Web site for judging. Later that afternoon, the team drove into the infield of the Daytona International Speedway to watch a demonstration on how the vehicles’ emissions output will be measured and judged in the final competition in May. A tool will be used that attaches to a car’s exhaust pipe and measures the emissions leaving the vehicle, including NOx, CO2 and hydrocarbons. In the demo, GM engineers showed the teams what needs to be left in the stock vehicle so that the emissions equipment can be installed safely and properly.

On Thursday evening, the EcoCAR organizers hosted a Sponsor Social for the universities with a special presentation from Doug Fehan of Corvette Racing. He spoke about the American Le Mans Series and how he has focused on teamwork through his successful race management career.

“It was really interesting to listen to an enthusiastic speaker,” said Drew Kosmoski, a mechanical engineering student on the Wisconsin EcoCAR team. “He has been very successful and inspires our team to work hard toward our goals this spring.”

Friday, team leader, Adam Richards, and graduate research assistant, Chris Meyer, presented the team’s Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) model to the judges. Adam and Chris showed the judging panel that faults could be found within the electrical system and how the vehicle would respond through the controls strategy. By using HIL, it simplifies the controls work because debugging can be done before anything is installed in the vehicle. 

In the afternoon, the teams learned what will be tested and what constitutes a good score in the AVL drive quality event in May. To determine drive quality, sensors will be hooked up to the vehicle that measures pedal pressure and vehicle response. A good score would have a very predictable linear response with pedal position creating a smooth ride.

The Wisconsin team getting the details on the upcoming AVL drive quality event

Saturday, the final day of the workshop, the Wisconsin team split up into two tracks–outreach and technical. The outreach sessions covered social media and utilizing the Clean Cities Coalition. The technical track talked about spring inspections, competition rules and logistics. The teams had the opportunity to interact with GM and Argonne National Laboratory representatives and ask questions.

The day concluded with team photos, a tour of the Daytona International Speedway museum, a barbeque dinner and a speech from faculty advisor, Glenn Bower, on lessons learned in Year Two.

The University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team is now developing the spring semester’s plan and outlining deadlines in detail, so that they can be best prepared for May.

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