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4-Year Mobility Makeover

Published: October 29, 2018

dSPACE Helping Universities Develop Advanced Technologies as a Leadership Sponsor of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge

dSPACE is donating high-performance, in-vehicle, prototyping hardware to aid student engineers in developing and testing embedded software control systems as part of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. The Challenge is the latest DOE-sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) offering engineering students an extraordinary opportunity to work with peers and automotive industry professionals, while gaining hands-on experience in designing and building next-generation mobility solutions.

Student engineering teams have a four-year gateway to transform a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, donated by General Motors. They will apply new technologies, such as advanced propulsion systems, electrification, SAE Level 2 automation and vehicle connectivity, to improve overall energy efficiency and reduce emissions, all while keeping safety at top of mind.

To assist the teams through this four-year mobility makeover, dSPACE is providing 12 MicroAutoBox II prototyping units, along with a cash donation, training and engineering support.

“dSPACE is committed to supporting STEM education, and the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge reinforces all of these principles,” said Dr. Peter Waeltermann, president, dSPACE Inc. “Throughout the competition, students will be completing many of the same development tasks as automotive engineers who are currently working on e-Mobility, advanced driver assistance systems, and autonomous driving applications in the real world. This offers such an incredible opportunity to students and dSPACE is pleased to be able to contribute.”

The dSPACE MicroAutoBoxes will be used by teams to prototype and verify their control strategies for various embedded software applications, including electric drives, advanced driver assistance systems and onboard sensors.

The MicroAutoBoxes will enable students to take their control system designs and rapidly bring them into the vehicle. In addition to developing prototypes, students will be able emulate sensors and access sensor interfaces to measure various devices in their vehicles.

“Each team is responsible for developing their overall supervisory software controls,” said Joe Cassar, Engineering Group Manager, dSPACE Inc. “The MicroAutoBox will serve as the primary platform for them to manage all of these functions over a CAN network and sensor interface mediums.”

In the previous AVTC competition (EcoCAR 3: 2014-2018), participating universities received hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulators from dSPACE. The teams will pair their MicroAutoBoxes with the simulators to utilize the full capabilities of testing electronic control unit (ECU) functions in depth, and to simulate real-world driving scenarios safely in a laboratory environment.

“The HIL system will be used to perform the software validation of the supervisory controller, and thus, allow the students to perform software integration testing and regression testing,” said Cassar. “It provides both open-loop testing capability for replay of vehicle data, as well as capability for executing high-fidelity, closed-loop powertrain and vehicle dynamics model simulation in real time.”

The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge is the latest Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) and is headline sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors (GM), and MathWorks, and managed by Argonne National Laboratory. 

EcoCAR is a collegiate automotive engineering competition aimed at developing a highly skilled workforce by providing hands-on experience designing and building the next generation mobility solutions to meet our nation’s future energy and mobility challenges.

EcoCAR teams will participate in a four-year competition that will challenge them to re-engineer a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer to incorporate advanced propulsion systems, electrification, and connected and automated vehicle technology that will improve the energy efficiency, safety and consumer appeal of vehicles, specifically for the carsharing market.

The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge tasks 12 North American universities to apply advanced propulsion systems, electrification, SAE Level 2 automation and vehicle connectivity to improve the energy efficiency of the Blazer – all while balancing factors such as emissions, safety and consumer acceptability. 

Teams will use onboard sensors and wireless communication from the vehicle’s surrounding environment to improve overall operation in the connected urban environment of the future.  The team’s vehicles will include automated functions, like acceleration and steering, and assumes the driver remains engaged with the driving task and monitoring the environment at all times.

In addition, EcoCAR teams will use Model-Based Design, a mathematical and visual design approach using MATLAB and Simulink already widely adopted in the automotive industry. This assists teams in quickly and cost-effectively mange projects, collaborate on designs and develop complex embedded systems.

More than 1,000 students from the 12 North American universities will participate each year, gaining real-world experience solving complex engineering challenges and building teamwork and leadership skills that they will take with them into their future careers.

EcoCAR Mobility Challenge launched in September 2018 and will conclude in 2022.

12 universities are participating in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge:

  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL)
  • Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
  • McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
  • Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS)
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN)
  • University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  • University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)

More information is available at www.avtcseries.org as well as details about the history of AVTCs and previous competitions. 

Learn more about the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D563g9jqM4