Join us for a quick chat to Tom Behrendt about his work on the team as a Chassis engineer and how we use simulation software to assist the team in the leadup to competition.
What simulation software is used and how does it work?
A range of software is used for the entire process. Firstly, we start with the CAD master model from both NX and Solidworks. These are simplified and recreated in rendering software which can be used in simulations.
Assetto Corsa is the simulation software used, which allows us to adjust hundreds of parameters from suspension geometry and setup, power and torque curves, wings and other element modelling. Physical testing locations are re-created in the simulation, after which the software exports mathematical telemetry that is analysed in MoteC i2 Pro. This data is compared to data obtained from physical testing over multiple configurations. This, along with the extremely customisable software allows us to accurately mimic what would happen on track.
Why is simulation so important for driver training?
The goal of my project was to investigate the validity and usability of a simulator within a Formula Student team. It is intended to assist in fundamental preparation for drivers when memorising a new track. Due to numerous variables such as weather and the availability of physical testing locations, having the simulator removes these limitations and the drivers can test whenever, wherever.
Of course, physically testing the car is important as it allows for more realistic tuning and response on track. However, too much testing can also wear out the vehicle, which can be detrimental at competition.
Using the software allows us to train our drivers and put in hundreds of hours of testing without wearing out the actual car.
The simulation software uses data for RPM-Speed and lateral g-plot-time from a physical autocross lap. With this information the simulator can approximately locate shift and DRS regions, as well as identify relative load cases for a given track (see plot above/below).
There exists the potential for it to be used in future for setup-change validation, but this will be subject to ongoing research. My intention was to tackle basic concepts first.
How does this help for the lead up to competition?
The configuration of the track at competition is only revealed two weeks prior to the event. As the competition track is much larger than what we are able to recreate physically, we emulate the full track in the simulator so the drivers can practice without actually going all the way to Calder Park Raceway.
We also organise a day to give other teams the opportunity to drive the track before competition by loading the simulation onto our two simulators as well as the simulator RMIT have offered to bring along to the day too.