University of Missouri-Columbia
For the past 20 years the University of Missouri has designed and built a racecar to participate in Formula SAE design competition. A handful of college students are solely responsible for the engineering and manufacturing of a functioning racecar. Designing and building a car in such a short period of time provides a great deal of learning experience for students in both engineering and time management. To create a competitive racecar, the team must have the car built in roughly five months to allow time for testing and working the bugs out. This restricts design time to less than two months. To stay competitive teams must be constantly innovating and developing faster and simpler designs and manufacturing processes.
For our 2013 car we used Adams/CAR from MSC Software to design and evaluate suspension kinematics. By using Adams/Car we were able to design one of the best performing suspensions in Mizzou Racing history. Only minor changes can be made to FSAE cars after they are fabricated due to time constraints, so it's critical to refine and perfect the design before the car is erected. Using Adams/Car we were able to set up multiple iterations of the suspension and simulate how they would affect the performance of the car. By being able to tweak and change the suspension geometry and receive immediate feedback we were able to choose the suspension best suited for our overall design.
Our 2013 car was fundamentally different from previous cars, which prompted an extensive suspension redesign from the 2012 car. New tires along with a new unsprung aero package created a unique set of constraints that had to be calculated and accounted for in the design of the suspension versus the previous year. Specifically the re-design of the front suspension and CG location were concentrated on the most during the design process. Our 2012 car had several problems including steady-state understeer and a significant amount of bump steer. We used Adams/Car to evaluate how CG location would affect understeer and oversteer characteristics and also how to optimally place steering geometry to minimize bump steer. We found that in order to get the steering geometry we wanted that we would have to move our steering rack which would also change our damper mounting location. Adams/Car allowed us to easily change the damper and steering rack location in the virtual model and see immediately what effect it would have. In previous years if we wanted to make a change to suspension geometry we would have to put it into a 3D modeling program which could take several hours and the results would be often difficult to interpret. Adams/Car helped shave almost two weeks of design time off compared to the previous year's car.
After our first day of testing the car we packed up the trailer and headed back to the shop to examine the information off of the data logger. Upon examination we were in awe of how closely the real car functioned in comparison to the virtual model in Adams/Car. We look forward to next year, where we will continue to build upon our understanding of vehicle dynamics using Adams/Car.