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Ian Haigh, a Senior Development Engineer at Ansible Motion Ltd, tells us about how vehicle development is changing, increasingly taking place via simulation, in the “virtual world”.

I have been working at Ansible Motion Ltd for just over three years now. Prior to this, I was at Lotus Engineering, and before that I completed a degree in mechanical and automotive engineering at the University of Birmingham. I am based at Hethel in Ansible Motion’s Research and Development (R&D) Centre, alongside a team of engineers and technicians.

We specialise in designing and deploying Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulators which help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 suppliers evaluate future concepts, hands-on, in a laboratory environment. Our DIL simulators are aimed at providing realistic feedback to development drivers so they can provide feedback to vehicle design engineers early in the development process – sometimes before physical prototypes even exist. In order to convince drivers that they are driving a real car, we have to trick all their senses, creating a truly immersive driving experience.

We’re different from most driving simulator suppliers because we are concerned with the engineering aspects of vehicle design. For example, most motion systems still rely on the traditional hexapod design – a legacy from aerospace simulation. On such simulators, motions mimic the directional vectors of aircrafts. However, for a ground vehicle, you want the sensation of vehicle stability, things like understeer and oversteer gradients, and this bit is more challenging to achieve. For example, when you turn your steering wheel, you can feel the tyres causing the car to change direction, and we are able to mimic this feedback.

DIL simulators enable engineers to have complete control over the conditions and driving scenarios, as well as allowing for the exploration of almost infinite conditions and situations. With the ever-increasing

36 | Tomorrow’s Laboratories

is carefully balanced with our own research and development time. We recently hosted the minister for UK Trade & Investment and have opened up to a number of universities as well. But day-to-day activities for me are related to testing and developing our own technologies, running experiments to assist our customers, and demonstrating to visitors new to DIL simulation, what they are fully capable of.

I think one of biggest challenges we face in terms of the technical side, is that we are doing things that no one has ever done before – it’s really innovative and we are constantly pushing the boundaries. As better hardware comes to the forefront, so does improved software. We are always at the limit. We’ve got 20 computers to power our DIL simulator in the lab, so you get a sense of how complex these simulators can be. They can be used for basic shakedown testing to developing the latest ADAS and autonomous vehicles technologies.

complexity of modern cars, this is crucial for us and for our customers. We use the R&D simulator in our Hethel lab to advance what we can offer to customers. It acts as our virtual proving ground for developing new technologies.

Most days I am in the R&D Centre to guide our technicians on what they need to do for our test and development programmes. But sometimes we also have customers in the lab – they might be working on a vehicle physics model or a tyre model, for example.

We have more and more visitors wanting to see what our Delta series DIL simulator is capable of. So, this

One fascinating area of research that has come to the fore is the root causes of motion sickness. As autonomous cars become a reality, drivers may find themselves completing tasks they ordinarily wouldn’t do in the car, and this is likely to dramatically increase occurrences of motion sickness. Auto manufacturers will need to search for real world countermeasures to negate this effect and we are doing DIL simulation studies to help with that.

As technology advances and the complexity of automotive engineering increases, the need and demand for our DIL simulators is probably going to keep growing. Our DIL simulators connect real people to imagined technologies. We are helping to keep people “in the loop” as cars become more and more sophisticated.

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