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Meet the Mopar Sims

by David Zatz on

You know those computer games that simulate cars that don’t exist yet? FCA Canada’s just gotten the coolest of them—the most advanced driving simulator in North America, in fact. With nine directions of movement and specific driver calibration, the new simulator closely duplicates the reality of driving, letting FCA check out new systems more easily.

Most driving simulators use six actuators; for greater accuracy, the new VDS uses nine actuators to create more ranges of motion. It also uses a three-micron cushion of air to float the 4.5-ton motion platform above the floor like a hovercraft or air-hockey puck.

The new simulator can add subsystems such as the brakes, steering, ABS, and stability control to reduce product development times and lower project validation costs.

Rob Wichman, head of FCA Vehicle Engineering, wrote, “The ability to simulate a drive experience with hardware in the loop is key to our engineering efforts and assists in identifying design changes much earlier in the development process. The simulators can help to assess technology for advanced driver assistance systems, evaluate interfaces, and test driver distraction and possible remedies for distraction.”

While the focus seems to be testing new integrations of safety/autonomy systems with the driver experience, one can imagine a similar rig saving a great deal of time during early vehicle tuning; rather than running a number of different suspension prototypes, they could be tested virtually. After all, the simulator can be fitted with any vehicle body, road, and environment. Five projector screens show films of various environments and can help the system to simulate elevation changes, off-camber roads, and potholes.

Initially, the VDS will be used to support chassis vehicle dynamics. The overall investment was $10.1 Million (CAD), including support from the Ontario government through the SouthWest Ontario Development Fund. The developer of the technology is VI Grade.


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