OSU’s Day at the Transportation Research Center

Ever wonder what the EcoCAR teams will be judged on when they go to Finals? At Year Two and Year Three competitions, the teams’ redesigned Malibu vehicles will be judged on many features such as performance, fuel economy, and driver comfort.  In designing its Malibu last year, the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 team’s main goal was have a vehicle that exceeds in every category compared to original stock vehicle.  In order to know the capabilities of the stock vehicle, the team tested it by taking a trip to the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.

The Transportation Research Center (TRC) is a site for testing safety, energy, fuel economy, emissions, durability, noise, crash simulation and performance.  On this occasion, the team focused on testing for fuel economy, performance, and drivability.

To start the day off, OSU set-up its vehicle on a chassis dynamometer (more commonly referred to as a “rolling road”) in order to test its fuel economy and the tailpipe emissions. The vehicle was driven over the same drive cycles used by the EcoCAR 2 competition to calculate its utility factor weighted fuel economy and emissions.

In the afternoon, the team headed to TRC’s dynamic handling course to run some drivability and performance tests.  In order to accomplish this, OSU enlisted the help of TRC driving instructor Roger Schroer.  Roger is well known at Ohio State for his experience in driving the Buckeye Bullet during multiple land speed record attempts. Roger subjected the OSU vehicle to numerous tests including acceleration, braking, a max lateral acceleration test and an autocross.  These tests pushed the vehicle to its limits and provided valuable data for the team.

Using the baseline data collected at TRC, team members will be able to compare the EcoCAR 2 vehicle in Years Two and Three of the competition to the original, unmodified vehicle.  This data will provide significant assistance as the team sets goals and tunes the vehicle to perform on a higher level!