Sponsor Success Thursdays: Embry-Riddle gets a little help from dSPACE

With a lot of late nights, long days, and help from EcoCAR 2 mentors, the EcoEagles of Embry-Riddle have been developing a promising Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle architecture. Throughout year one of the competition, the EcoEagles have had the opportunity to collaborate with industry-leading companies to develop a vehicle architecture. The EcoEagles’ Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) architecture is designed to reduce petroleum energy consumption, reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions and maintain consumer acceptability in the areas of performance, utility and safety.

During Year One, the team focused on model-based design and simulation. The cornerstone of Year One progress is Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) development. dSPACE was generous enough to provide each of the teams with hardware and software tools to help develop their vehicles: a mid-size HIL and MicroAutoBox to rapidly develop a controller and test it in a real-time environment. In addition to this hardware, dSPACE also donated automotive simulations models to help accelerate the development of vehicle simulations. dSPACE also provided the EcoEagles with a mentor. Vince Sabitini is the team’s personal point of contact and an invaluable asset in all dSPACE matters.

Having a dSPACE mentor helped Embry-Riddle quickly overcome challenges associated with the HIL simulations. One challenge the EcoEagles faced was to begin simulating the Controller Area Network (CAN) used to communicate between controllers on the vehicle. The EcoEagles wanted to simulate all four CAN busses, but this required additional hardware. They talked with Vince and developed a plan to solve the problem. dSPACE helped the team upgrade its HIL with another CAN board that they integrated into the mid-size system. This allows direct access to six CAN channels during vehicle simulations. Now the EcoEagles are able to simulate communication between the EcoCAR 2 vehicle and stock vehicles.

The team also wanted to control high current devices in order to develop the cooling strategy for an energy storage system. dSPACE helped the EcoEagles get a custom Rapid PRO system to fit their needs. The Rapid PRO system is an off-the-shelf tool that allows the EcoEagles to immediately control high current devices through software and test devices with the HIL system

dSPACE also helped the team overcome a problem at Winter Workshop in Austin, TX when a processor board was damaged during shipping. dSPACE was there with onsite support to get the Embry-Riddle HIL back up and running in time for the HIL demonstration.

Throughout the competition dSPACE has been very supportive and has always encouraged the EcoEagles to seek out their assistance. Mentor Vince takes the time to listen to the team’s ideas and goals and help pursue the right solutions to improve upon its HIL system.

The EcoEagles are all very grateful for the support and contributions of EcoCAR 2 competition sponsors. They provide real-world experiences and have taught the team a lot about professional collaboration and constant communication.