Accelerating vehicle development with virtual simulation

Siobhan Doyle

Leveraging a virtual simulator speeds up car development and eliminates physical prototyping.

The automotive industry is ever evolving, adopting and integrating new technology for the research, design, engineering and production of vehicles. One technology aiding in this evolution is virtual reality (VR) which presents an array of opportunities to enhance efficiencies in key areas of automotive manufacturing, eliminating the need for costly physical prototypes.

UK-based motion simulator technology company Dynisma specialises in designing and manufacturing driving simulators and motion generators (DMGs) for this very purpose. Recently, the company announced a partnership with British high-performance supercar manufacturer McLaren Automotive to help support the brand’s engineering division in advanced vehicle development programmes.

Set to be operational at McLaren’s Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking, Surrey, the simulator will be used to virtually develop new McLaren models in a host of key areas, including vehicle dynamics and aerodynamics, propulsion systems, noise vibration and harshness (NVH), control systems and human machine interface (HMI), user experience (UX) and ergonomics. It will also enable McLaren to conduct countless tests and parallel projects that will take place in an efficient, repeatable, sustainable, and closed environment.

Automotive product development

Dynisma was founded in 2017 by Ash Warne who is an experienced F1 driving simulator engineer. In fact, Warne started his engineering career with McLaren Racing back in 2007, stating that it is “fantastic to come full circle”.

Its range of DMGs are built in-house by a team of engineers and can be integrated with any vehicle model, track, terrain or visualisation environment its customers choose.

According to Dynisma, DMG simulators can be used at every stage of the chassis, tyre, powertrain and active system development cycle to OEMs to new model delivery faster. It also has a higher bandwidth that enables drivers to make a much deeper evaluation of the vehicle’s dynamics, making it possible to feel the whole vehicle and make valid assessments of its behaviour.

Manufacturers can also use the simulators to test and optimise EV, hybrid and hybrid powertrain attributes, controls and strategies, simulate the effects of different tyre types and properties, develop and validate advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) components, systems and calibrations, and enable OEMs to simulate cockpit, dashboard and driver interfaces.

Motion simulation redefined

The motion cueing data in the simulator provides an immediate and immersive sensory experience directly to the driver’s body and vestibular system. With a latency as low as 3-4ms, the DMGs offer prompt vehicle dynamics feedback, enabling faster reactions to events like oversteer and kerb strikes.

A key focus of the DMG philosophy is achieving greater bandwidth. This allows for motion cueing that conventional platforms cannot match. By accurately conveying information such as road noise and engine vibration, the team of engineers say DMG provides a highly realistic and immersive driving experience, leveraging the human body’s sensitivity to subtle changes.

Simulation and optimisation are also integral to the development process of DMG systems, from full-system multi-body modelling to subsystem stress analysis. Utilising carbon composite structures with great stiffness, strength, and low weight also maximises the system’s bandwidth and acceleration potential.

Furthermore, DMG features unique 6 or 9DOF (degrees of freedom) direct drive technology, eliminating performance-limiting mechanisms like ball screws or gearboxes. This delivers 6DOF motion directly to the payload, enhancing responsiveness.

Dynisma’s team touts the benefits of using the DMGs in new product development as gamechanging, setting new standards by pairing ultra-low latency with high bandwidth to create an immersive, realistic and responsive driving simulation experience.

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