Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are skyrocketing. Driven by technological improvements in powertrains and batteries, environmental regulation, and shifting consumer demand for greener vehicles, global sales of EVs rose by 40 percent last year. And the electrification revolution is only getting started. This growth trend will continue as the cost of owning electric vehicles declines and approaches the cost of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles sometime within the next decade.
For every product powered by batteries — cellphones, hybrid and electric vehicles, implantable medical devices, drones, industrial equipment — there is an end user who is concerned about a battery’s longevity. Whether you are trying to find an outlet to check your emails before your cellphone dies, wondering how many miles your drone can fly before it falls from the sky, or hoping to delay the surgical procedure needed to change the battery in your implanted defibrillator, battery longevity affects us all at one time or another.
LEDs are increasingly used in automobile headlights because of their small size and reduced energy consumption. But, though they are much more energy efficient than traditional headlights, most of the energy required is converted to heat rather than light — 70 percent, in fact. This presents a challenge to engineers and designers because, since they are semiconductor-based, the diode junction of LEDs must be kept below 120 C. Maintaining temperature below this limit typically involves cooling airflow from an electric fan combined with heat sink fins.
Developing a luxury electric vehicle (EV) from scratch with a short deadline demands organization and access to the right technology to get the job done. Lucid Motors of Menlo Park, California, met the first challenge by putting all the engineers in one room so the structural and aerodynamics engineers would know what the battery, motor and power electronics engineers were doing, right from the start. This collaborative environment has helped them to design a unique automobile with more passenger space by reshaping the battery stack, while optimizing the electric motor, the cooling system, the aerodynamics and the battery life.
For most of human history, our mode of mobility was feet — our own feet, or those of some domesticated animal. Whenever we wanted to go somewhere, we walked or used horses. These quadrupeds remained the dominant mode of inter-city and intra-city transport for over two thousand years. Then in the mid-nineteenth century, the mode of inter-city transport changed over from horses to railways. Another half a century later the horse also disappeared from cities and towns as intra-city transport was taken over by automobiles. In the mid-twentieth century airplanes became the dominant mode of inter-city travel in North America, with railways continuing in addition to airplanes in Europe and Asia.
And that’s where we are today — stuck with trains, planes and automobiles for nearly a century. But not for long. Continue reading
A revolution is underway in the transportation industry. The rise of autonomous vehicles will transform the industry and society itself as much as the nineteenth century shift from horse-carriages to automobiles did.
However, developing autonomous vehicle technology is a formidable challenge. It requires ambitious new developments in sensing technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence, that are not only unprecedented in the automotive industry, but in all other industries as well. Continue reading
Innovation is not just a buzzword in the automotive industry — it is a critical competency needed to transform vehicles into smart machines that incorporate numerous systems such as infotainment (phone, multimedia), guidance (GPS), adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking, and others.
Innovation is also indispensable in meeting new government standards that regulate fuel efficiency/emissions and drive the need for new technologies such as hybrid/electric vehicles. While accelerating these advancements, OEMs and suppliers must also control increasing product complexities and the resulting multiplication of failure modes to keep vehicles robust, reliable and safe. Continue reading
The internet has now come to the automobile, bringing connectivity for infotainment, telematics and vehicle data analytics. The connected car is rapidly becoming a key node in the emerging Internet of Things. While connected car technology is a delight for car buyers, it poses unprecedented new engineering challenges for car manufacturers of reliability, safety and security. Continue reading
Every year, automotive industry visionaries and innovators from across the automotive industry assemble at the Automotive Simulation World Congress to share the latest advances, perspectives and best practices in the use of automotive simulation. I am excited to note that this year, the Automotive Simulation World Congress will be held again in Europe, meeting in Munich on June 7-8, after spanning other corners of the globe in previous years. Continue reading
Now, armed with the ability to perform true multidisciplinary optimization, automotive aero-thermal engineers can be 10 times more productive!
Numerous aerodynamic and thermal aspects need to be considered while designing cars, trucks and all other ground vehicles. Aerodynamic drag forces need to be studied as they affect the vehicle’s fuel efficiency; underhood component cooling needs to be managed carefully to avoid damage from the engine’s heat; aeroacoustic effects have to be calculated to reduce undesirable noise; and cabin climate control needs to be optimized for passenger comfort. CFD simulation of each of these aspects requires different models and methods. Continue reading