A Treadmill for Cars – EcoCAR 2 Teams Get a Rare Shot at Dynamometer Testing

In March of next year, 15 EcoCAR 2 teams will be offered the opportunity to gather high-quality test data from their vehicles at the Emissions Testing Event. Split between the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio and Argonne’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility in the Chicago suburbs, the event will offer teams eight hours of emissions and fuel economy testing in a controlled laboratory environment. The teams will effectively be given a state-of-the art, open test bed to calibrate control strategies and shake down their vehicles before final competition in June.

The EcoCAR Chevy Malibu during benchmark testing at the TRC facilities this past October

The EcoCAR Chevy Malibu during benchmark testing at the TRC facilities this past October

Acting as a kind of ‘treadmill for cars,’ a chassis dynamometer offers the ability to virtually drive a vehicle under a multitude of different scenarios or ‘drive cycles,’ such as urban driving, highway driving and aggressive driving. Automobile manufacturers use this sort of testing during vehicle development as well as for official certification by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA uses standardized drive cycles for all vehicles made for the U.S. market to evaluate fuel economy and emissions. Teams will submit test plans to the organizers for evaluation well in advance of the event to ensure that their eight hours are used most effectively. The test plans will indicate what sorts of drive cycles and tests the teams plan to use, and the plans will be scored by expert judges with years of chassis dynamometer testing experience.

Several EcoCAR 2 teams will participate in emissions and dyno testing at the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (featured) at Argonne National Laboratory

Several EcoCAR 2 teams will participate in emissions and dyno testing at the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (featured) at Argonne National Laboratory

In EcoCAR 2, safety is paramount – so to ensure a safe testing environment, all vehicles will be subjected to a Safety and Technical Inspection process before being permitted to test on the dynamometer. “Safety Tech” will include a variety of key checks on vehicle hardware, electrical systems, safety systems and controls functionality. This is the same type of inspection the vehicles will receive at the Year Three competition at General Motors’ Milford Proving Ground in June, so the inspections conducted during the Emissions Testing Event also serve as a preliminary inspection for competition. Teams that pass the inspection in March will be well prepared for success at the competition.

Check back here in March to see how the teams do at the Emissions Testing Event!

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