Testing tires in the simulator

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The extent to which simulators can be used to test tires has long been a subject of debate and is still an area of research requiring significant improvements. We speak to leading experts to ask their opinions on the matter

Simulator supplier Ansible Motion recently opened its new R&D workshop in Norwich, UK. The £2m (US$3.1m) facility, which was installed in just six months, is located at the company’s existing premises at the Hethel Engineering Center, and comprises two workshop spaces. The center piece is Ansible Motion’s new Delta series simulator which features a 6DOF motion system.

Ansible’s technical liaison, Phil Morse, believes the misapplication of tire models has been a large influencing factor in this debate. “The type of model that’s being used has to fit the experiment that’s being conducted. If you’re interested in steering feeling or EPAS system development, the type of tire model and road surface texturing that you use would be completely different to if you were interested in limit handling performance around a race track, or if you’re interested in overall understeer and oversteer behavior,” he says.

“There is always a performance trade-off between a tire’s characteristics for any given market segment and vehicle. Vehicle manufacturers provide limited vehicle models and tire companies provide limited tire models to one another, so it’s a co-development process,” Morse continues. “Inject into that something like Driver-in-the-Loop (DiL), where you can quickly assess multiple rounds of tires in the simulator – many more options than you could in real-world testing. Being able to do that is a big advantage.”

Meanwhile, McLaren Applied Technologies and MTS Systems Corporation are collaborating on the development of a next-generation vehicle dynamics simulator (VDS). The VDS is designed to accommodate advanced mechanical hardware-in-the-loop technology, which offers the potential for real-time integration of difficult-to-model hardware – such as tires – directly into simulations.

MTS’s director of the motorsport technology group, Mark Gillan, highlights the usefulness of simulators in developing tire models: “Certainly in motorsport with a high fidelity DiL simulator your ability to develop the tire model is significantly enhanced. Most F1 teams have very detailed thermal models which can predict for example for thermal degradation and various other transient performance parameters, and that’s come from tight integration with the track and simulator.”

“From an OEM perspective thermal modeling may be overkill but tire models are still the weak point of any vehicle model,” he says.

“Having just been to a tire model conference at the University of Surrey with over 130 of the world’s leading experts in tires attending, there’s still a way to go to develop the optimal OEM tire models and I think that’s where a DiL simulator can help in giving feedback to the OEM, or the tire maker, to help accelerate the tuning and optimization of their tire models.”

July 23, 2015

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