University of Wisconsin Takes a Look Inside the Winter Workshop

The University of Wisconsin team returned to Madison today after five days in snowy Daytona Beach, Florida with new skills to prepare them for the final EcoCAR judging in May.

Last Wednesday, the team visited the Embry-Riddle EcoEagle Green Garage to use National Instruments’ Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) technology to develop a vehicle simulation model. National Instruments representatives were on hand to work with the teams and answer last minute questions.

An EcoCAR vehicle on display at the Speedway!

The workshop kicked off on Thursday and the Wisconsin team presented its outreach events and communication plan for Year Two as well as its Web site for judging. Later that afternoon, the team drove into the infield of the Daytona International Speedway to watch a demonstration on how the vehicles’ emissions output will be measured and judged in the final competition in May. A tool will be used that attaches to a car’s exhaust pipe and measures the emissions leaving the vehicle, including NOx, CO2 and hydrocarbons. In the demo, GM engineers showed the teams what needs to be left in the stock vehicle so that the emissions equipment can be installed safely and properly.

On Thursday evening, the EcoCAR organizers hosted a Sponsor Social for the universities with a special presentation from Doug Fehan of Corvette Racing. He spoke about the American Le Mans Series and how he has focused on teamwork through his successful race management career.

“It was really interesting to listen to an enthusiastic speaker,” said Drew Kosmoski, a mechanical engineering student on the Wisconsin EcoCAR team. “He has been very successful and inspires our team to work hard toward our goals this spring.”

Friday, team leader, Adam Richards, and graduate research assistant, Chris Meyer, presented the team’s Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) model to the judges. Adam and Chris showed the judging panel that faults could be found within the electrical system and how the vehicle would respond through the controls strategy. By using HIL, it simplifies the controls work because debugging can be done before anything is installed in the vehicle. 

In the afternoon, the teams learned what will be tested and what constitutes a good score in the AVL drive quality event in May. To determine drive quality, sensors will be hooked up to the vehicle that measures pedal pressure and vehicle response. A good score would have a very predictable linear response with pedal position creating a smooth ride.

The Wisconsin team getting the details on the upcoming AVL drive quality event

Saturday, the final day of the workshop, the Wisconsin team split up into two tracks–outreach and technical. The outreach sessions covered social media and utilizing the Clean Cities Coalition. The technical track talked about spring inspections, competition rules and logistics. The teams had the opportunity to interact with GM and Argonne National Laboratory representatives and ask questions.

The day concluded with team photos, a tour of the Daytona International Speedway museum, a barbeque dinner and a speech from faculty advisor, Glenn Bower, on lessons learned in Year Two.

The University of Wisconsin EcoCAR team is now developing the spring semester’s plan and outlining deadlines in detail, so that they can be best prepared for May.