Maj. Gen. Stein (TACOM LCMC) Tours ARC Facility

Major General Kurt J. Stein from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) visited the University of Michigan, College of Engineering on September 23rd. The experimental facilities of the Automotive Research Center (ARC) were among those toured that day.

From left: Maj. Gen. Stein, Dr. Grace Bochenek, Dr. Jason Siegel (UM), [to-be-updated],
Prof. Anna Stefanopoulou (UM) and Dr. David Gorsich.

Professor Anna Stefanopoulou, Director of the ARC, presented an overview of the main research thrust areas in the Center, and explained how the organizational structure encourages collaboration. She briefly highlighted efforts related to Dynamics and Control of Vehicles, Human Centered Design, High Performance Structures and Materials, Advanced and Hybrid Propulsion, and Vehicle System Integration, Optimization and Robustness. Next, Prof. Stefanopoulou explained that, while ARC’s primary mission is to pursue basic research in areas critical for developing future automotive systems, researchers are encouraged to seek partnerships with industry and pursue technology transfer.

The visitors were soon given a chance to see advanced research setups up close and personal. Professor Stefanopoulou, gave an overview of the model validation and verification efforts being conducted in the Powertrain Control laboratory. Students there performed precisely controlled tests for evaluating model-based automation and fault detection in fuel cells and batteries. The visitors were shown a video of assembling cells of various dimensions and chemistries to enable better understanding and modeling of the effects of manufacturing variability. Dr. David Gorsich, TARDEC's Chief Scientist, highlighted the data collected by the lab researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the lithium concentration across the battery electrodes. Movies of the neutron imaging measurements of electrode swelling under various power demands sparked a lot of discussion on the electrification needs of military vehicles.

In the ARC's powertrain integration dynamometer facility Research Professor Zoran Filipi, Deputy Director of the ARC, highlighted key case-studies focused on modeling, integration, design, and control of hybrid propulsion concepts for military vehicles. Then, visitors watched while students were switching hardware form testing conventional engine-only to hydraulic-hybrid engine configuration. One of the visitors, Mr. Paul Skalny, Director of the National Automotive Center at TARDEC, pointed to the importance of hybrid-hydraulic technology for heavy-duty vehicles and the pioneering work of ARC in this area.

In the last laboratory, Professor Filipi explained the synergies derived from linking ARC's engine dynamometer facility with TARDEC's ride motion simulator via an ARC-developed Internet-Distributed methodology. This work demonstrates how geographically-dispersed and extremely specialized component testing facilities can now be integrated to evaluate and verify system performance. Dr. Grace Bochenek, TARDEC's Director explained that the ARC-TARDEC connection in this laboratory radically augments the individual testing facilities because it accounts for interactions among components and the driver in real time. This novel ARC capability verifies system-level performance of advanced powertrains.

Bemusement as our visitors watch a student-produced time-lapse video of how the hydraulic hybrid powertrain test cell was set up, with Black Sabbath's Iron Man as background music.