As NC State’s EcoCAR 2 team wrapped up Year One of the competition, the team reflected on just how important sponsors are to the project. Without the main sponsors, General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, this competition would not be a reality, but it takes the support of all sponsors for EcoCAR 2 to reach such a magnitude. One of the sponsors who contributed greatly in Year One is dSPACE, a market innovator and leading producer of engineering tools for embedded controller development.
It is through dSPACE that each team was provided with a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator. This component has become essential in the electronic development process for testing control functions in the automotive industry. The HIL simulator allows for testing of all the different motor varieties and their electronic control units (ECU’s) through a virtual environment. Having this device provides many benefits for the EcoCAR 2 engineers, including the enablement of function tests before all parts are available. This was critical in Year One given that the teams did not receive their actual vehicles (2013 Chevrolet Malibus) until this summer. Additionally, the HIL simulator involves laboratory tests which reduce time and cost, while taking place under controlled conditions. And finally, these devices can simulate what are normally dangerous situations without risk to the driver or machine.
NC State has found that the HIL simulator is not only beneficial to its team of engineers, but to the outreach team. At a recent STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expo, the outreach team and several engineers traveled to a local high school to educate students and parents about the project. During the event the HIL simulator was hooked up to a monitor with accelerator and brake pedals that replicated a vehicle. This allowed students and parents to test out the device first-hand. Needless to say, it was a hit with the children!
Learn more about how NC State has collaborated with dSPACE in this video: