To be prepared for work in the automotive industry, it is imperative that engineering students gain hands-on experience while in college. This experience can be obtained through internships, co-op assignments and class projects. But at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), students have the additional opportunity to join the UTK EcoCAR 2 Team, a unique project that allows engineering students from various departments to work with top-of-the-line software and technologies. In one of the team’s latest projects, the UTK EcoCAR 2 Controls Team has been developing methods to test their vehicle’s run drive cycles and trigger faults.
In the laboratory, the controls team has an entire room dedicated to their two dynamometers. For readers that aren’t familiar with this testing device, dynamometers are used to test and validate vehicle systems by mimicking a variety of real-world driving conditions. One is specifically designed to test engine efficiency, while the other is used for chassis analysis. These types of tests are used to validate the vehicle’s performance in any terrain or environment. Jake Hollingsworth, a controls team member, says that dynamometers are “great [because of their] ability to validate and model systems in the vehicle.” Regular testing also helps the team detect errors early on in the development process, which saves time down the road.
In the coming weeks, the controls team intends to test the computer codes for drive cycles and trigger faults that they are currently developing. After the results have been obtained and analyzed, next steps will include improving upon any places where the testing fell short of expected outcomes. Testing with the dynamometer is key to ensuring that the entire vehicle system will perform at competition standards.