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We have a breaking story on the Green Garage blog today as EcoCAR has announced the winner of the “Best Website” outreach award! UVic took home first place for the contest, which judged team websites based on content, creativity, and appeal. UVic will receive a $500 prize for winning, narrowly edging out second place finisher Ohio State and third place University of Waterloo.

The UVic website features a simple, intuitive layout with up-to-date news and blog posts. The site is visually appealing, with plenty of photos of the team’s vehicle and student team members. Sponsor logos and links to social networking tools are also prominently displayed, completing the EcoCAR judges’ criteria for the award.

Please join us in congratulating UVic and wishing them the best of luck during the last few months of the competition!

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The University of Victoria’s outreach coordinator Jason Mayard just returned from two very busy weeks in Ann Arbor. The Spring Workshop was a fantastic chance for Jason to meet the other outreach coordinators to get a feel for how UVic’s outreach measured up to the other teams.  More than a simple workshop, the meeting at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was essentially an opportunity to gather people together and share experiences.

During the workshop, Jason had an interesting experience presenting to a classroom of 7th grade students because it was the first time he had served as a teacher. Jason successfully adapted his message to the younger audience and apart from coming away feeling several years older, found teaching the excited kids very rewarding.

Jason with a group of students

Presenting the sponsor success story to the competition judges with a business background was another challenge for the UVic outreach coordinator. Jason’s talk about Hardware-in-the-Loop, virtual models, and the almighty cutting-edge controllers got technical at times, but he was well-prepared to promote the team effectively. Jason became much more confident after sitting down with the engineers and learning a great deal about the technical concepts of the EcoCAR. He proved such a quick study that he has almost considered switching to engineering studies…almost.

The UVic outreach coordinator was thankful to the organizers, especially those involved in the outreach program, for making themselves available to help and support the OCs from the different teams. He will continue to lead the team’s marketing effort as they head down the home stretch of the EcoCAR competition!

Throughout the last semester, the University of Victoria EcoCAR team focused its efforts on the development of its vehicle’s control systems – with quite a bit of success. One of the team’s major breakthroughs was the distribution of power from both the electric motor and internal combustion engine to each axle. This was achieved using a 2-mode transmission. Currently, the power distribution between axles can be adjusted manually, but the control system will soon be able to dynamically allocate torque depending on traction control and other system diagnostics.

The engine start and stop sequencing has been improved as well, but requires some additional work.  The team also successfully optimized its EcoCAR’s ability to sustain a charge, which has been implemented and tested on both the model and the vehicle. Using a static shifting speed, UVic has enabled the transmission to shift using a fixed gear, and the team is preparing to upgrade to a dynamic shifting speed in the near future.

UVic has started its dynamic testing using a circular stretch of road on campus. The team’s EcoCAR was able to accelerate to 55 km/h in just 3.3 seconds, but due to local speed restrictions, the 0-100 km/hr event will have to wait until EPA testing at the Spring Workshop next month.

We are excited to see the UVic team and their EcoCAR in Ann Arbor!

UVic's EcoCAR

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!

The University of Victoria EcoCAR team has been diligently addressing problems that arose during Year Two of the competition while also making some all-around improvements to their vehicle. Mechanically, the team has been working hard to reduce noise and vibrations throughout their EcoCAR. New motor vibration mounts for the rear traction motor (RTM) are being manufactured, as well as new high-voltage aluminum enclosures to improve safety in the electrical systems. Light weighting is also being addressed by replacing the current steel plate between the engine and the transmission with a smaller, aluminum adapter plate. New cargo mounts have been designed to maintain the stock interior and improve overall aesthetics in the cargo area. The thermostat’s inconsistent temperature readings have been rectified, which should help with the team’s fuel economy by allowing more accurate engine temperature control. Finally, the current battery pack enclosure has been modified to improve accessibility.

On the controls side of things, the UVic team is nearing completion of a control systems overhaul. The new system is much more streamlined in terms of modeling procedures and productivity. The models in the new system, such as the engine and battery pack, have also been improved. Advanced techniques, such as parameter estimation, use real-world data to generate more accurate model parameters. Additionally, a new traction control system has been developed and is currently being tested and refined.

As a special feature, a new touch screen interface is currently being developed to help emulate the functionality of systems found in today’s consumer vehicles. The main challenge in this system is integrating the vehicle’s controller area network as it is a complex procedure.

The team has other consumer feature enhancements under research and development, but for now, they’ll remain under wraps in the top secret UVic vault!

 

The new UVic plant models have been redesigned to reflect the practices used in the dSPACE ASM vehicle dynamics model.

This week’s Team Spotlight Video highlights the University of Victoria EcoCAR team!

Watch the video below to learn about UVic’s plan for optimizing their vehicle in Year Three and for more details about their EcoCAR, a plug-in hybrid extended range electric vehicle. The EcoCAR may start off operating by battery power, but don’t underestimate its capabilities – team members estimate that their EcoCAR can go from 0 to 60mph in 7.5 seconds!

On Friday, EcoCAR organizers from Argonne National Laboratory and General Motors met with the EcoCAR Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. The FAB provides critical academic input and direction to EcoCAR organizers and consists of four EcoCAR faculty advisors who come from a mix of veteran and incoming teams involved in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC).

“These advisors provide a unique perspective to the competition,” said EcoCAR organizer and AVTC Mechanical Engineer, Nicole Lambiase. “They help the organizers by giving their own input about what they believe the students and teams can achieve, then we feed that insight back into the planning and execution of the program. It is always nice to hear what the advisors have to say.”

At last week’s FAB meeting, EcoCAR organizers prepared for the Spring Emissions Testing and Workshop to be held at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ann Arbor facility, in March. Organizers also discussed the preliminary scope of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future competition.

 

rs from Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Penn State and University of Victoria visit the UVic EcoCAR garage for a tour

EcoCAR organizers and FAB advisors from Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Penn State and University of Victoria visit the UVic EcoCAR garage for a tour

“Given the technical and logistical demands EcoCAR places on our students, I’m grateful that the EcoCAR organizers solicit our suggestions to ensure the competition metrics and logistics are the best they can be,” said University of Victoria Faculty Advisor Curran Crawford.

After discussing the Spring Workshop and EcoCAR 2, members of the FAB took a tour of the University of Victoria EcoCAR garage and saw the university’s upcoming Green Vehicle Research and Testing Centre, which will be complete in early 2011 (Learn more about the centre, here:  http://greengarageblog.org/2010/09/21/uvics-new-green-garage-taking-shape/).

Call it a Green Garage upgrade. The UVic EcoCAR team is thrilled to have a new cutting-edge garage facility in its near future. The new “Green Vehicle Research and Testing Centre” is currently under construction and when complete, will consist of a garage and testing lab equipped with state-of-the-art automotive testing equipment. Its doors will be open to researchers from UVic as well as public and private sectors who are focused on advancing alternative energy technologies, especially hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric.

The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and members of the UVic EcoCAR team, with one of UVic's green vehicles. Photo Credit: UVic Photo Services

Lead by faculty advisors Curran Crawford and Zuomin Dong, the UVic EcoCAR team will be among those fortunate enough to use the new center, where they plan to perfect their Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) during Year Three of the competition. A key element of the new facility is a vehicle chassis dynamometer – aka ‘dyno’ – which measures speed, torque and power of a vehicle under a range of operating conditions. Think of it like a treadmill, for cars.  “It will allow us to test vehicles in a controlled environment, with more accurate results than using a human driver, and it’s also a lot safer,” said Dr. Crawford. “Ultimately, I think the dyno, and in fact the entire center, will give the EcoCAR team a competitive edge and really further the research that UVic is doing with the automotive industry.”

Yelich and members of the University of Victoria EcoCAR team, pose with the awards won by the team. Photo Credit: UVic Photo Services

Congratulations to UVic and we look forward to a tour of the finished facility in the near future!

Each year at competition finals, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) organizers distribute two very special “organizer” awards – the Dr. Donald Streit Sportsmanship Award and the Ron Stence Spirit of the Challenge Award. The first honor goes to the team that unselfishly reaches out to assist and support the other teams and organizers, despite their own circumstances and challenges. The award is named for the late Dr. Donald Streit, who served as faculty advisor to the Pennsylvania State University FutureTruck team and whose dedication and sportsmanship live on through the AVTC students. The Spirit of the Challenge Award is named in memory of a longtime EcoCAR competition organizer and sponsor from Freescale Semiconductor, Mr. Ron Stence. Ron was a very dedicated and passionate advocate of the AVTC program whose persistence to overcome almost any challenge encompassed the true “spirit of the challenge.”

This year, the University of Victoria EcoCAR team, lead by students Jeremy Wise and Jeff Waldner, had the perseverance, sportsmanship, strength of character, and positive attitude characterized by both the Spirit of the Challenge and Sportsmanship Awards. This was evident in the unanimous decision by competition organizers that the team would receive both honors.

The University of Victoria team accepting an award at the EcoCAR Year Two Finals

Throughout the year, the University of Victoria fought endlessly through challenges and was successful in having a running vehicle. Leading up to competition, the team participated in weekly conference calls to help others use GM’s 2-Mode transmission and answer questions about their development and integration progress. They were heavily involved in the discussion boards, always answering any questions other teams might have in a timely manner, even while developing their own vehicle. The team was an integral part of 2-Mode integration and control strategy troubleshooting, and without their efforts, we can be sure that other teams would not be as far along as they were when they arrived at competition.

Even with all of their preparation, the team had some issues going into competition. With just a couple weeks before their vehicle shipped to Yuma, they suffered a broken input shaft and had to remove their powertrain for repair. During competition, they had another mechanical issue with their powertrain. Rather than give up, the team modified their control strategy to achieve significant vehicle functionality and were able to complete almost all of the dynamic events, ultimately finishing in 4th place overall. 

The University of Victoria EcoCAR in action!

Despite their own technical struggles, the University of Victoria team consistently went out of their way to share knowledge and experience with other 2-mode teams throughout Year Two. During competition, one team noted that they were unaware Victoria was even having mechanical issues because whenever they asked them questions, the team members were always positive and willing to help. They demonstrated wisdom and vision in recognizing that helping others reach their ultimate potential is as valuable as seeking their own immediate success. The University of Victoria is a model to other teams in their attitude, willingness to help others, and ability to never give up. We can’t wait to see what the team does in Year Three! Congratulations, UVic team!

Contributed by Nicole Lambiase, an engineering coordinator for Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition program.

In this second post, we’d like to applaud the winner of the “Outstanding Incoming Faculty Advisor” Award for 2010, which is actually a team of two advisors who provide an excellent example of what faculty can do with the EcoCAR program at an incoming university.

Dr. Zuomin Dong and Dr. Curran Crawford from the University of Victoria share the role as co-faculty advisors for the university’s EcoCAR team. Dr. Dong is professor and chair of Victoria’s Mechanical Engineering department. Dr. Crawford is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering for Victoria and also a former ME graduate from the university.

Dr. Zuomin Dong

Dr. Curran Crawford

The University of Victoria established their engineering program in 1983 and offered their first automotive engineering course in 2008 when the university was accepted into the EcoCAR competition series. Although a relatively young program, under Dr. Dong and Dr. Crawford’s leadership Victoria has quickly become one of the most successful new teams in the EcoCAR series. As soon as the university was selected into EcoCAR, the advisors worked with the administration to find suitable facilities on campus for the teams and are establishing a dedicated Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research and Training Center, which will further automotive research and provide a facility for students to obtain a broader engineering education. The advisors have also created courses for hybrid vehicle design specifically for EcoCAR and worked with other engineering faculty to incorporate EcoCAR design projects into their curriculum.

Dr. Crawford receives the 2010 NSF Outstanding Incoming Faculty Advisor Award from Connie Bezanson, DOE's AVTC Program Manager.

Much of the team’s success can be traced back to the attitude and example set by Dr. Dong and Dr. Crawford who motivate their students to do things “the right way.” The advisors have always encouraged their team to strive for the best possible solution/design, even if it may be the most challenging. Whether this means making and following a plan from the start, or spending those few extra hours to make sure the job gets done right, the Advisors have instilled a professional, respectful, and winning attitude in students. In addition, the Advisors have encouraged the Team to form good relationships with other schools and the team has gone above and beyond to mentor and help support other teams with similar vehicle architectures. It is this approach to the competition that has helped propel the UVic Team to high levels, despite the fact that this is the first AVTC competition for the university.

Dr. Dong with the Victoria team at the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, AZ.

The following student statements best characterizes their advisors’ efforts:

  • “To say that my advisors have had an impact on my educational experience would be an understatement. Were it not for their efforts in regards to the EcoCAR project, I would not be as excited about my education and my future as I am today.”
  • “I have never felt the desire to interact with my professors outside of my classes. However, through the EcoCAR team, Dr. Crawford has given me a different perspective on professors. His knowledge and ability to teach are both excellent, but above all, his positive energy and strong desire to provide a great learning experience for his students has earned my respect.”

University of Victoria EcoCAR team

We congratulate the three outstanding Faculty Advisors, Dr. Zuomin Dong and Dr. Curran Crawford as well as Dr. Roydon Fraser, and appreciate their dedicated service and commitment to the EcoCAR program.

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