Simulation’s role in delivering Industry 4.0 vehicles

We’re living through a technological revolution. The internal combustion engine, at least as we know it, is dead.  

Every automotive manufacturer is locked in a race against time to develop and deliver clean green vehicles. They must be capable of the performance standards their customers know, and more importantly, expect. By 2030, cars with petrol or diesel engines will be banned from sale in the UK. Across the pond, the state of California will prohibit the sale of petrol engine passenger vehicles from 2035. The European Union is expected to introduce similar curbs soon, in line with their stated commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.

Ready or not, automotive OEMs need to rapidly pivot their technological traditions, or face being unable to access hundreds of millions of consumers in some of the world’s richest markets. To complicate matters, there is no clear technological path forwards.

Image 1: The Automotive industry faces unprecedented technological change in the next 10-15 years. Image: Jannes Glas, Unsplash
Image 1: The Automotive industry faces unprecedented technological change in the next 10-15 years. Image: Jannes Glas, Unsplash

Motorsport: laboratory for the road

At Claytex, we’ve seen this scenario unfold before. We have been supporting motorsport teams and manufacturers with our simulation tools over the past 20 years. In the face of seismic technological changes, such tools have proven to be indispensable.

Virtual testing was crucial to enabling F1 manufacturers to understand the 2014 engine formula. In determining the optimal solution and incorporating complex hybrid engines into the most extreme sporting environment imaginable, our simulation solutions enabled world beating performances to be continually delivered. Other racing series such as NASCAR and IndyCar are both on the brink of their own hybrid dawns, relying on Claytex’s virtual testing tools to understand the new technological epoch.

Motorsport mirrors the road, and the road mirrors motorsport. Both face a myriad of technological options moving forwards.

Image 2: Since 2014, hybrid engines have powered the world's fastest drivers to victory. Simulation and virtual testing play a pivotal role in this. Image: Kevin et Laurianne Langlais, Unsplash
Image 2: Since 2014, hybrid engines have powered the world’s fastest drivers to victory. Simulation and virtual testing play a pivotal role in this. Image: Kevin et Laurianne Langlais, Unsplash

For road going vehicles, battery electric vehicles are a popular solution, although contemporary technology means they cannot match the range and ease of refuelling of a petrol- or diesel-powered vehicle at this time. Plug-in hybridisation currently appears to offer the best compromise. On the horizon however, new battery and charging technology could change this. Now, if we look at the commercial sector the picture becomes even more cloudy, where hydrogen fuel cells could be more suitable.

Image 3: Claytex have demonstrated the value of simulation in off-road racing, as well as on-road motorsport, with pioneering Dirt Late Model simulation projects. Image: Photos by Boyd

Recent history also tells us that the scientific consensus can change. Bio ethanol once appeared to be heir apparent to fossil fuels. So, who knows what propulsion technologies will be favoured 5, 10 or 15 years into the future?

Strategic initiative

Time is critical in motorsport. Manufacturers rely upon virtual testing and simulation to make the correct technical decisions, as swiftly as they can. Right first time is important; right first time quicker than your rival delivers success. VeSyMA, a suite of simulation models from Claytex, brings the tools they use, to you.

Image 3: Users have full control of scalable model detail within all test cases for vehicles and components, as well as being encouraged to develop their own test cases, vehicles and components for their own specific goals.
Image 4: Users have full control of scalable model detail within all test cases for vehicles and components, as well as being encouraged to develop their own test cases, vehicles and components for their own specific goals.

At its core, VeSyMA enables you to evaluate and quantify the viability of modern technologies quickly and efficiently. Libraries of vehicle models with replaceable components enable you to drop in or swap out as few, or as many, components as needed. You can simulate any aspect of a vehicle as a combined system, capturing a level of detail only rivalled by physical prototype testing; without the expense in terms of time, or money physical testing entails.

Engineers are empowered to explore and plot the technological path forwards in the virtual world before committing precious design and production resources. With infinitely repeatable conditions, competing technologies can be efficiently compared directly to one another. Any environmental condition or use case scenario can be replicated at the gestational stage, eliminating unsuitable design avenues at the earliest opportunity.

Escalating customer expectations can continue to be met and even exceeded whilst the world transitions to a new green and sustainable future.

Written by: Theodor Ensbury – Project Engineer

Please get in touch if you have any questions or have got a topic in mind that you would like us to write about. You can submit your questions / topics via: Tech Blog Questions / Topic Suggestion.

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