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A Deep-Dive Lesson on Modeling, Testing and Controls Development

Students participating in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge visited the dSPACE NA office in Wixom, Michigan, to participate in an intensive two-day workshop focused on controls development and testing.

dSPACE hosted a workshop for students participating in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge to help them with the development of their hybrid supervisory controllers, which is a critical component for operating subsystems (i.e. powertrain, fuel consumption, battery power, etc.) within a vehicle.

Engineering teams from 12 universities are participating in the EcoCAR competition. They have a 4-year window (from 2019-2022) to design, integrate and refine efficient mobility solutions for a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer. The teams are applying advanced propulsion systems, as well as connected and automated vehicle technology, to improve the energy efficiency, safety and consumer appeal of the Blazer. Additionally, they are using onboard sensors and wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications to improve overall operation efficiency in the connected urban environment of the future.

The dSPACE workshop was attended by students responsible for propulsion controls and modeling activities. They received two days of thorough, hands-on training, which included lessons on modeling, testing and controls development.

Students connected MicroAutoBox II units to their mid-size HIL simulators to test I/O connections.

The teams are using a dSPACE MicroAutoBox II prototyping unit to rapidly develop and test control algorithms for advanced automotive control systems. At the workshop, they learned how to develop and deploy software to the MicroAutoBox, including real-time interface I/O handling and task management. The students also learned how to interface with dSPACE ControlDesk experiment software to read and parameterize various signals and interact with hardware.

At the workshop, students spent some time wiring connectors for their dSPACE HIL simulator.

To validate their control algorithms, the students received hands-on training on how to perform hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing using a dSPACE simulator. This lesson included an overview of the purpose and advantages of HIL testing and how the teams can benefit from it. The use of automotive sensors and actuator basics was also covered, as well as how to manage the data acquisition of signals and how to carry out fault injection simulations using the fault insertion unit (FIU). In conclusion, a closed-loop testing demonstration was given to teach the students how to configure and use their dSPACE HIL simulators to test out their controllers.


“We have thoroughly enjoyed having the EcoCAR students here at dSPACE,” said Matthew O’Connor, dSPACE HIL Engineering Team Lead and a mentor to the EcoCAR teams. “The training that they have received will allow them to be successful in an industry that is constantly pushing for more efficient and effective testing.”

After a full day of training, dSPACE invited the teams to The Backyard Axe Throwing League to test their axe throwing skills. It was a tough competition, but congratulations to Drew Hayworth from Virginia Tech and Chris Fillyaw from the MathWorks for being crowned Axe Throwing Champions of the dSPACE EcoCAR Fun Night!

Chris Fillyaw (MathWorks), Peter Waeltermann (dSPACE) and Drew Hayworth (Virginia Tech).

dSPACE is a leadership-level sponsor of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. The competition provides a real world training ground for students to gain hands-on experience, while following a multi-year vehicle development process to design, integrate and refine vehicles into reliable, energy efficient mobility systems.