Auto Electronics

Tool vendors support EcoCAR design contest

Three automotive design tool vendors, dSPACE, National Instruments, and The MathWorks, are providing more than $2,300,000 hardware and software to student teams participating in EcoCAR, the three-year vehicle technology competition for engineering students. All three vendors are platinum sponsors of the contest.

The tools are intended to help students teams design green cars of the future. EcoCAR teams learn real-world automotive engineering practices through the use of model-based design and graphical system design technologies that include hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and software-in-the-loop (SIL). Students will unveil their final designs at the competition finals in Toronto on Friday, June 12, 2009.

EcoCAR students are working in teams on “what if” scenarios to validate their assumptions in a simulated environment to test hybrid controls strategies using SIL technology from The MathWorks and National Instruments. With their designs fully tested, they are trying out their work in HIL systems supplied by National Instruments and dSPACE.

dSPACE is contributing a complete product line of tools for embedded software development and testing with a cumulative value of more than $1 million. The tools include MicroAutoBox, Rapid Control Prototyping (RCP) systems, HIL simulators, measurement and calibration hardware and software, and autocode generating software.

The dSPACE Simulator enables students to cover scenarios ranging from testing single engine control units to integration testing of the whole vehicle. EcoCAR teams using dSPACE’s HIL technology include Howard University, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Victoria, University of Waterloo and West Virginia University.

National Instruments is donating more than $300,000 worth of engineering hardware and software, including NI LabVIEW graphical system design software, CompactRIO in-vehicle embedded control systems, and PXI modular simulation systems, providing an entire HIL solution. Teams are using the tools to design, prototype and deploy vehicles and tackle algorithm engineering challenges associated with developing advanced hybrid vehicles.

EcoCAR teams using HIL technology from National Instruments include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Georgia Tech, Michigan Tech, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas Tech, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin and Virginia Tech. Embry-Riddle and Virginia Tech also are using the National Instruments SIL solution for their projects.

The MathWorks is donating software for Model-Based Design, including its core software MATLAB and Simulink. The company is also delivering training to all student teams and faculty advisors and providing automotive industry consultants as mentors who work closely with students throughout the three-year competition. The MathWorks has provided more than $1 million in product and in-kind donations to the competition. All 17 EcoCAR teams are using The MathWorks tools for Model-Based Design.

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