Research in the Automotive Research Center addresses a broad set of issues pertaining to design, analysis and optimization of ground vehicle systems. Work is organized in the following five Thrust Areas. The scope evolves over time based on our discoveries and feedback from the sponsor and industry. Given the complex nature of research challenges in the automotive area, collaboration within and across the Thrust Areas is an essential element of our philosophy. Main accomplishments are highlighted every year through integrative case studies at the Annual ARC Conference.
Fuel economy, mobility, and safety of modern vehicles heavily rely on the numerous control systems that fulfill tasks ranging from controlling the traction between the tires and the road to controlling the energy storage in electrified powertrains. All these vehicle control systems rely in turn on a solid understanding of the dynamics of the vehicle and its components. Thrust Area 1 focuses on research for proper mathematical modeling of these dynamics and creating new control algorithms that leverage these models to maximize the vehicle’s performance. The vision of Thrust Area 1 is to create adaptive vehicles for maximum mobility and responsiveness to changing mission needs.
The safety and performance of human occupants and operators are paramount in the achievement of ground vehicle design objectives, but these occupants are also the most variable components of the human-machine system. Modeling and simulation of occupants and operators provides an efficient and cost-effective means of assessing designs prior to creating physical prototypes, reducing the cost and time required for testing. This thrust area focuses on research to advance the capabilities of human simulation tools through human measurement and the development of innovative simulation methodologies. The research spans studies of human physical attributes and responses through measurement and modeling of perceptual, cognitive, and motor behavior.
In order to achieve significant advances in fuel efficiency and mobility for future vehicles, it is critical to deliver vehicle structures that do more with less: that is, structures that feature high durability and provide excellent occupant safety yet are lightweight. The goal of Thrust Area 3 is to develop advanced simulation and optimization methods that can be used during the early design stages of innovative vehicle concepts for reducing weight while also increasing reliability and survivability.
The objectives of Thrust Area 4 are to investigate new energy conversion options and propulsion system architectures, to develop models and simulations for their design and analysis, and to create methodologies for evaluating the true potential of proposed advanced technologies.
Three specific areas of study are being pursued: First, predictive, physics-based models capable of addressing details of diesel engine processes with multi-fuels are being developed to enable studies of novel designs and modes of operation under normal and severe environmental conditions. Second, integrated system simulations of advanced and hybrid powertrains are being improved for studying realistic engine-in-vehicle operation, thermal management, component matching, advanced powertrain concepts and architectures, and optimal control strategies. Finally, experimental studies are being conducted to support model development and provide subsequent validation.
The goal of engineering and fielding highly resilient ground vehicle systems requires not only optimal design of the vehicle components, but also an optimization of the interactions between them. Such an effort requires modeling across many different physical systems and domains as well as multiple spatial and temporal scales, which becomes ever more challenging with the increasing complexity of military vehicles. Thrust Area 5 research addresses the challenges associated with the need to develop modeling, simulation, and design methods that support ground vehicle system-of-systems integration. This integration may involve not just a vehicle but also the humans inside and the support systems outside, as well as a wide variety of missions with demanding duty cycles.