“EcoCar: The Next Challenge,” a collegiate competition gauged towards creating a hybrid vehicle by modifying a 2009 Saturn VUE, recently received a charitable boost from National Instruments. NI has donated to the competition over $300,000 in hardware and software equipment to the teams for the competition. Some key tools include NI’s LabVIEW graphical system design software, CompactRIO in-vehicle embedded control systems, and PXI modular simulation systems.
EcoCar is a three-year competition, broken into three development stages: Year one students will modeling and design of their concept hybrid automobile—using NI’s PXI platform and LabVIEW Real-Time Module to develop hardware-in-loop (HIL) simulations. The CompactRIO and LabVIEW equipment will help students observe control models to interact between electric motors, combustion engines, and energy storage. Year two the teams receive vehicles to implement their designs. Then at the end of years two and three the teams will test their concepts in real competitions.
“In this first year of competition, NI LabVIEW software and PXI hardware will prove especially useful while teams focus on the modeling, simulation and testing of their control strategies,” said competition organizer Kristen De La Rosa, director of advanced vehicle technology competitions at Argonne National Laboratory. “Additionally, NI equipment will help teams through the entire multiyear process because students can continue using this single development environment and NI hardware as a platform for bringing their vehicle designs to life.”
This will be the ninth consecutive year that NI has sponsored the DOE competition series with equipment and cash donations. Their donation-level has deemed them as Platinum Sponsors. Also, teams that receive NI systems will also receive ongoing training and support from National Instruments engineers. The EcoCar competition serves as hands-on experience for engineering youth and a creative way to spur new ideas in the hybrid-car market.