The best driving simulator is in Valla
What may be the world’s most realistic driving simulator is now at Linköping in a collaboration between the Vehicle Lab at LiU and VTI (the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute),. “We’re getting closer to real driving without having to go out in traffic,” says Per Öberg, researcher at Vehicular Systems.
Interest in hybrid cars is increasing, both among car companies and customers. Until now, however, there have never been any really good test environments where it has been possible to test fuel consumption, how the various control systems in a hybrid car work together, how heating and cooling systems could be as effective and as fuel-efficient as possible, or in which situations it is most effective to use an engine (electricity, gas, or for liquid fuel).
“There really are no good test cycles developed for hybrid cars, and no rules of thumb to hold to, either, but in the Vehicle Lab we can perform tests under controlled forms and as close to real driving as you can get in a simulator,” says Öberg, a research associate at the division of Vehicular Systems and laboratory head for the L House.
One part of the simulator, known as a moving base simulator, is at VTI across the street from the Vehicle Lab. The driver sits on a driver’s seat in a large container with moving pictures on the screens placed in front and on the sides. The container moves much like a car would; it can even shake to simulate unevenness on the road. But, the driving experience itself and how the car behaves are based entirely on mathematical models.
What researchers have done now is to link the simulator at VTI with the cars in the Vehicle Lab. Linked to the drive wheel - or rather, the axle where the drive wheel would be – are dynamometers that produce exactly the inertia the tires would have sensed on various surfaces – an upward slant, or slippery roads.
In the car there is also a pedal robot with two actuators: one controls the gas and one controls the brake; everything is connected in real time through a computer and an optical link between both buildings. When the driver in the VTI simulator steps on the brake, the robot steps just as hard on the brake in the laboratory car. Speed and other values are transferred just as quickly back to the VTI simulator.
“In this way we can test drive and compare many different cars or powertrains; it doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes to move the equipment over to another car. We can also run experiments that would be flat-out dangerous outside the laboratory in traffic,” Öberg says.
It’s been barely a year and a half since the inauguration of the Vehicle Lab at LiU, actually three labs in one: a propulsion laboratory, a vehicle informatics laboratory, and a laboratory for energy storage and energy conversion.
“The vehicle labs have really been well developed; we’re now the first in the world to connect two simulators this way,” says a satisfied Lars Nielsen, professor of Vehicle Systems at LiU.
The opportunity to simulate and test driving cycles, anti-skid systems, and new constructions in this manner has also met with great interest, both among car companies and in the world of academia. In the Vehicle Labs today you can zigzag between the cars, many of which are in line to be tested. A pair of scientific articles about the laboratory and the simulator connected to it have been approved for publication in connection with the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. They were written in collaboration between Peter Nyberg, Per Öberg, and Lars Nielsen at LiU, and Anders Andersson and Håkan Sehammar at VTI.
Photo of VTI simulator: Hejdlösa Bilder
Division of Vehicular Systems
Last updated: 2014-11-05