driver training, industry, Motoring News, vehicle technology

FCA simulators take vehicle movement to new level

”LOOK MA, NO WHEELS!” A double-cab bakkie is mounted on the test equipment in front of a typical road environment. Image: Supplied

WINSOR, Canada – The FCA Automotive Research and Development Centre has inaugurated a vehicle dynamics simulator as part of claims is the most advanced driving simulator technology available in North America.

It has nine directions of movement and specific driver calibration to closely duplicate actual driving.

Tony Mancina, head of engineering at FCA Canada, told The Corner in a media release: “The VDS has cutting-edge technology that emulates a vehicle’s driving dynamics in a virtual environment. This new technology gives a driver a customised virtual immersion that replicates the ride and handling of a specific vehicle on a multitude of simulated road surfaces and environments.”

SUB-SYSTEMS COME EXTRA

Most driving simulators, The Corner was told, use six actuators to deliver six “degrees of freedom”. The FCA VDS system has nine actuators to create additional ranges of motion. It also – the 4.5-ton platform – rides on a three-micron air-cushion of air as a hovercraft does.

Sub-systems, such as braking, steering, ABS and stability control, can be added to meet functional targets to reduce not only product development time but also costs.

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

”Simulators can create a virtual environment to assess the ride and handling of a vehicle, perform tests on sensor technology for driving assistance systems, evaluate different human-machine configurations and test for driving distraction and distraction remedies.”

ANY BODY, ANY ROAD

The simulator can be fitted with any vehicle body, road, and environment. To create a visual experience across five projector screens data is collected by scanning the environment and the roads. The data is then stitched together to create a real-time virtual environment that can include elevation changes, off-camber roads, and potholes.

Initially, the VDS will be used to support chassis vehicle dynamics but in future will be used to support more systems.

The whole shebang required an overall investment equivalent to R115-million.

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