Detroit -- Engineering suppliers are helping student teams build
an "EcoCAR" by contributing math-based design tools and software that enable
them to create "virtual vehicles" before they ever fabricate a prototype.
At the 2009 SAE World Congress here this week, The MathWorks and National Instruments (NI) said they are donating software
and hardware to university-based teams, which will reengineer a 2009 Saturn Vue
to reduce its environmental impact while retaining its consumer appeal.
huge advantage to design the systems in simulation first," said Alexander
Koch, a team captain for the University of
Waterloo's Alternate Fuels Team. "A few years ago, we would have to have built
the ECUs, tied them together with a CAN bus and then see if they worked."
the EcoCAR Challenge are
employing a variety of different software programs to simulate everything from
fuel economy tests and emission tests to the process of picking out drive
motors and developing electronic controllers. The University of Waterloo's
team, for example, is using The MathWorks' SimDriveline to simulate
mechanical power systems and SimPower to model
electrical power systems. It is also employing SimElectronics for
the ECUs and SimScape
for multi-domain systems. Along with those programs, the University of Waterloo
is also using The MathWorks' MATLAB and Stateflow design environments.
Koch said the simulation tools enabled Waterloo's
team to test engines and electric motors, as well as smaller components, such
as DC/DC converters and high-voltage buses, on their proposed hydrogen-powered
how much money you can save if you know how a certain engine or electric motor
will perform without even building it," Koch said.
Instruments said student teams are also using its LabView Real-Time Module, CompactRIO controller and PXI PC-based platform to develop such
components as CAN buses, camshaft sensors, crankshaft sensors, fuel injectors,
headlights and a host of other components. In all, NI said it has donated more
than $300,000 worth of hardware and software to the student engineering teams.
competition, established by the U.S.
Department of Energy and General Motors
Corp. (GM), includes design teams from 17 universities.
The teams are converting the Saturn Vues into four different kinds of alternate
fuel vehicles, including extended range electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids,
full-function electrics and fuel cell plug-in hybrids. During the three-year
competition, students use math-based design tools in the initial year, then
built working vehicles in the second and third years.
college teams have the opportunity to develop cars the same way GM does," said
Paul Mandeltort, a product marketing manager for NI. "They can try out more
risky designs than the OEM could do, and they get to test technologies that
aren't mainstream yet."