The first simulator of vehicular dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere
Thursday, 16 de November de 2017
Created by the FCA in association with PUC Minas, the SIMCenter is cutting-edge technology in the world and puts Latin America in the spotlight
It was just inaugurated in Belo Horizonte (MG, Brazil) what is more advanced in global technology of simulation of dynamics and active vehicle safety. The Vehicle Dynamics Simulation Center, named SIMCenter, was built on the campus of the PUC Minas, by the FCA in a partnership with the university. Cutting-edge technology, this simulator is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and also the first of the FCA in the world, which places Latin America in a prominent position in the development of cutting-edge technologies that will be implemented in the car of the future.
The focus is not just the simulation of automobile systems. The SIMCenter allows the development and experimentation of innovative urban solutions, by generating data that goes beyond the vehicle, such as driver behavior and ergonomics, road infrastructure, among other aspects. “By means of telemetry signals such as speed, acceleration, steering wheel angle, inserted gear, torque and engine power, in addition to the driver’s reactions, it is possible to carry out a complete analysis of the car and the ecosystem where it is located,” he explains. Deputy Director of Engineering Chassis of the FCA, Leandro Quadros.
“With the SIMCenter, we no longer need to wait for the construction of a prototype to test it. We even simulate situations of driver distraction, fatigue, effects of medication, as well as traffic signals and highways that have not yet been built, always in a controlled and safe environment, which can even help in the elaboration of traffic laws “, explains Toshizaemom Noce, supervisor of Innovation at FCA.
“The SIMCenter gives us the possibility of a total immersion of the driver with the greatest possible realism of the sensation of driving a vehicle”, defines Gustavo Costa, supervisor of Virtual Analysis of Engineering Chassis of the FCA. “The platform performs all the movements of a real vehicle through nine actuators, three of which transmit the translation of movement and the other six transmit the movement and vibration of the body.The cabin is equipped with an audio system that produces engine sounds and the reactions of the tires with the road.To ensure an immersive environment, a curved screen with a 230° angle of viewis the final touch on the equipment.
The movements of the cabin are integrated perfectly to the images projected on the screen and the commands made by the driver, governed in real time by the instruments in the control room. Costa explains that, until today, simulations were done only in “an offline environment”, that is, in the computer, without the interaction with a real driver. Now, with the inauguration of SIMCenter, the human being becomes part of the simulations. “It is the concept of driver-in-the-loop, which allows the pilot, in real time, to evaluate the response of the vehicle as the variables are adjusted”, he tells us.
In SIMCenter, it’s possible to evaluate different suspension geometries in real time, in a fully controlled environment, without even having to go to a test track. “We are able to immediately identify the impact of such changes on the performance and safety of the vehicle in order to design the best driving sensation”, Costa adds.
The control room is the brain of the SIMCenter. It’s here where the numerical models are stored with the technical and functional characteristics of each component of the vehicle that determine its dynamics, such as the non-linear models of shock absorbers, springs, tires, steering, brakes and stabilizer bars. These technical characteristics, once defined in the simulations, become technical specifications for the construction of the physical parts that make up the vehicle.
According to Costa, in the simulator you can drive in any circuit in the world. “We can simulate any environment and at any time, we can, for example, drive a Jeep Renegade or any other vehicle on the FCA circuit of Balocco in Italy or on a snowy day. We can now have a huge variety of data on vehicle response and the driver in that environment.”
You may be surprised that the SIMCenter is not located in the automotive plant but inside the university, instead. The explanation is simple: it was created to be a collaborative and multidisciplinary environment, and will be used not only by professionals at FCA, but also by the professors, the students, and researchers. The center has the potential for research in areas as diverse as Engineering, Architecture, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Psychology, among others.
“The SIMCenter is the result of what we call a triple helix comprised of: of the participation of the federal government, via the BNDES bank, the FCA and PUC Minas. In other words, the government, the company and the university,working together to generate knowledge and innovation for the country and the world. “We are going to train people who will be multipliers of the knowledge generated here”, emphasizes the professor Sérgio Hanriot, pro-rector of Research and Graduate studies of PUC Mines. He highlights the importance of joint work by universities and companies to accelerate innovations. “Our association with the FCA has lasted for 25 years, and since 1992, there have been more than 50 master’s dissertations, as well as about 15 course completion papers presented every six months, numbers that will tend to increase with the inauguration of the SIMCenter”, commemorates Hanriot.
FCA investments have exceeded R$ 18 million. “The SIMCenter is our interpretation of what it means to do innovation in Brazil, with the aim of creating something that has value for the world in terms of cutting-edge automotive technology.” This was only possible due to the incentive policies of the Inovar-Auto program and the support of the BNDES “, completes Noce. The deputy director of Chassis Engineering of FCA, Leandro Quadros, highlights the legacy that the new environment will promote. “Several technical solutions and active safety systems and driver assistance will be developed here,” he says. “FCA did not arrive here by chance. We started from a solid base of knowledge of Vehicle Dynamics, we did several studies and a wide benchmarking around the world until we came to the best configuration for a simulator. Today, there is nothing more modern, more complex, more complete in the world than the SIMCenter” says Quadros.
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