Are VMC modules enough to score well

It's different everywhere

When planning and developing new cars and trucks, vehicle manufacturers must also take into account the respective regional differences on the world market. Because the level of wear and tear on a vehicle in Brazil may be different from that in Austria. With the help of the simulation software VMC® from Fraunhofer ITWM, a geo-referenced analysis of environmental conditions is possible in order to simulate the stress and energy efficiency for a vehicle type.

All roads lead to Rome. That is true. The main difference, however, is the effort you have to make to get there - with a car or truck, for example. Not only the distances play a role, but also obstacles such as climbs, the road surface, the climate and so on. And of course it is important to consider how much the vehicle is stressed and worn by the individual driving style.

These are all factors that are also of great importance to vehicle developers. And of course not only for the route to Rome, but for the most varied of roads and regions around the world. After all, it makes a difference whether the vans from a truck manufacturer are mainly used on German motorways or in the South American Andes. Whether a well-developed highway in the United States can be driven at leisurely speed or the city traffic in a Chinese city has to be mastered. "The special features when choosing vehicles in the various regions of the world are also a factor that can no longer be neglected for modern vehicle manufacturers in terms of wear and tear and energy efficiency," says Michael Burger from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM.

When it comes to adapting its vehicles (which is becoming increasingly important) to different regions or markets, the automotive industry is therefore not only guided by different cultural tastes, but also by the respective local circumstances: How are the roads characterized there? Are the routes here usually straight or very curvy? Are there many roundabouts, traffic lights or legal speed limits? What are the weather conditions like or the average altitude to be overcome? And there are measured values, for example, on the roughness of the roads, because that too has a strong influence on the consumption of vehicles. But of course the different types of drivers that are statistically most prevalent in the regions must also be taken into account: Many areas have a different “mix” of drivers, which can be categorized according to aggressiveness, gentle driving or accident frequency.

The automotive industry develops market and target group-specific

Of course, a vehicle is not adapted to each of these categories on a regional basis, explains Burger. Nevertheless, it is fundamental for automobile manufacturers to be able to assess how much a vehicle should "withstand". This is because certain properties of a car or truck may have to be adapted. However, the knowledge required for this is only possible through extensive (and correspondingly expensive) field tests and surveys. Or through simulations that can be carried out using the VMC® simulation software.

VMC® simulation is part of the “VMC® - Virtual Measurement Campaign” suite, which was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM and is currently being continuously improved. "This tool can be used to determine vehicle behavior in selected regions or markets around the world," explains Burger. Above all, the load on the vehicles, for example in the drive train, or consumption and energy efficiency are calculated virtually. »The basic idea of ​​the simulation software is a combination of different geo-referenced data sources with statistical modeling of customer usage and vehicle simulation methods or optimization processes. These include typical customer routes, topography or traffic, ”says Burger. The researchers mainly use digital maps and satellite data, but also data materials such as those made available by the authorities in individual countries. »Once we know the road network and the quality of the roads with their unevenness and different surfaces, the curves, the inclines, traffic signs and speed limits as well as traffic information, we can use VMC® to estimate the potential effect of the regional road situation on a previously selected vehicle class from a manufacturer «Stresses Burger. It is not about reproducing the situation of an individual vehicle exactly, but about being able to represent the qualitative tendencies and the possibly very large variations (e.g. in loads and consumption) in a statistically correct manner. This data is then sufficient to enable a comparison of different regions with regard to attributes relevant for the manufacturer or, in case of doubt, to better prepare a subsequent real measurement campaign.

Geo-referenced data

"In the meantime, VMC® has matured to such an extent that vehicle manufacturers use the tool intensively in their planning," explains Burger. The software is continuously developed, both methodically and with regard to the integration and aggregation of ever new data sources. While the roughness of the road in Scandinavia, for example, is well logged and can be viewed, some of the information on this in Germany is not publicly available. The researchers therefore also use intelligent mathematical methods, for example to continuously supplement and expand the database with the help of vehicle measurements. (hen)