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The Ohio State EcoCAR 2 team is approaching its first major vehicle rebuilding milestone: a running rear powertrain!

Over the past two months, the students have been hard at work assembling the rear sub frame and energy storage system (ESS) mounts, where the batteries will be held. The team has currently finished installation of the ESS and will be working hard to install the batteries.

Building and installing the ESS has been an enormous task. The project began with having sheet metal laser cut and bent to form the various non-structural pieces of the ESS enclosure. These pieces were then welded to the cooling plates to create the complex structure of the boxes. This allowed for mounting of controllers and wiring, all while maintaining an airtight enclosure around the batteries themselves. While the boxes were being built, steel support frames were welded to the frame rails in the rear of the vehicle. The battery enclosures were then lined with non-conductive material to ensure they remain electrically isolated from the rest of the vehicle. Finally, they were mounted on the steel support frames inside the vehicle.

The next step will be installation of the batteries themselves and their associated wiring harnesses for completion of the energy storage system. The team will then focus on the installation of the rear sub frame, which means it won’t be long until their rear wheels are spinning!

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Since the “dawn of time”, it has been thought that engineering was a field only for men. It is difficult and challenging. It requires a lot of math and science. In the past, people didn’t ever think of women in engineering. However, in the past few decades, the United States has seen a drastic increase in the number of females interested in the field and the industry – especially at the OSU Center for Automotive Research and on student project teams like EcoCAR.

This year, the OSU team reached a milestone.

For the first time in the history of the Ohio State’s involvement in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, girls outnumbered guys on the trip to Austin, Texas for the Year Two Winter WorkshopNot only that, but at this year’s workshop, the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 team was responsible for four presentation, and all of these presentations were given by women.

Amanda Hyde, one of the female presenters for the Ohio State team, presented her graduate research on the dynamic driveline model – which will be used for developing traction control and for drivability studies for the team’s 2013 Malibu. “It was awesome to have all female presenters,” Amanda said.

Another presentation given at Winter Workshop addressed modeling and simulation. All teams were asked to present on the overall status of the modeling and simulation activities for Year Two and give a demonstration of the software simulation in action. Representing the Ohio State team in this presentation was Katherine Bovee, co-team leader, and M.J. Yatsko, sub-team leader.

“At the controls presentation room, you kept seeing two males, two males, two males….So when we (two females) walked in to present… it was awesome,” M.J. Yatsko said.  “Being able to present, and to do it well, is the most reassuring thing for me. To know that I can do well and be respected as a female in a competition like EcoCAR, it makes me feel like I can do anything in the automotive industry.”


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In the beginning of November, the OSU EcoCAR 2 team had the privilege of attending the 2012 Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance. The show, which was long awaited by the team members (because of the 75 degree weather, among other reasons…) featured motoring heritage and technology.  Held annually since 2002, the festival this year put a greater emphasis on advanced automotive technology by having a number of new exhibits, vehicles and even a special guest!

The festival entailed spending a long weekend on Hilton Head Island in the featured 2012 display: “Road to the Future.” In addition to the Ohio State vehicle, the exhibit featured a number of different vehicles including a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla Roadster and a Chevrolet Volt. To show how far industry has come in advanced technology, the exhibit also featured a 1917 Detroit Electric.

The OSU EcoCAR Team was also visited by Bob Lutz, former General Motors vice chairman. Lutz, who was heavily involved in the creation of the Chevrolet Volt during his time at GM, was very interested in learning about the competition and the OSU team’s vehicle design.

“After meeting Mark Reuss, the president of GM North America last year, it was awesome to meet another experienced GM executive. Bob was so interested about hearing about the team and how we went about designing our vehicle,” said Matt Yard, co-team leader.

In addition to the Motoring Festival, the team also spent a good amount of time with the OSU Alumni Club located in Hilton Head. Team members were the honored guests at a local restaurant, Mangiamo’s, for a celebration of Ohio State’s advancements in vehicle technologies.

Overall the Hilton Head experience was a great one for the OSU EcoCAR team. But now it is back to Ohio (and the 40 degree weather) to continue the work on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu!

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Ever wonder what the EcoCAR teams will be judged on when they go to Finals? At Year Two and Year Three competitions, the teams’ redesigned Malibu vehicles will be judged on many features such as performance, fuel economy, and driver comfort.  In designing its Malibu last year, the Ohio State EcoCAR 2 team’s main goal was have a vehicle that exceeds in every category compared to original stock vehicle.  In order to know the capabilities of the stock vehicle, the team tested it by taking a trip to the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.

The Transportation Research Center (TRC) is a site for testing safety, energy, fuel economy, emissions, durability, noise, crash simulation and performance.  On this occasion, the team focused on testing for fuel economy, performance, and drivability.

To start the day off, OSU set-up its vehicle on a chassis dynamometer (more commonly referred to as a “rolling road”) in order to test its fuel economy and the tailpipe emissions. The vehicle was driven over the same drive cycles used by the EcoCAR 2 competition to calculate its utility factor weighted fuel economy and emissions.

In the afternoon, the team headed to TRC’s dynamic handling course to run some drivability and performance tests.  In order to accomplish this, OSU enlisted the help of TRC driving instructor Roger Schroer.  Roger is well known at Ohio State for his experience in driving the Buckeye Bullet during multiple land speed record attempts. Roger subjected the OSU vehicle to numerous tests including acceleration, braking, a max lateral acceleration test and an autocross.  These tests pushed the vehicle to its limits and provided valuable data for the team.

Using the baseline data collected at TRC, team members will be able to compare the EcoCAR 2 vehicle in Years Two and Three of the competition to the original, unmodified vehicle.  This data will provide significant assistance as the team sets goals and tunes the vehicle to perform on a higher level!

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Last week, EcoCAR 2 organizer Patrick Walsh, and several EcoCAR 2 students, attended the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2012 Powertrains, Fuels and Lubricants meeting in Malmo, Sweden. Automotive OEMs and suppliers, as well as related companies and organizations in the industry, showcased products at the tradeshow and presented technical papers in various sessions throughout the week.

There was a host of exciting content on display at the trade show, including cutting edge biofuels and biomimetic technology. Many present were unaware of the competition but were happy to learn more, including several professors from domestic and international universities and Tier 1 automotive suppliers.

The four students, Matt Doude from Mississippi State University, Katherine Bovee from the Ohio State University, Eduardo Barrientos from Pennsylvania State University and Chris Reid from California State University Los Angeles, presented their EcoCAR 2 Year One Final Technical Reports to a session of the conference dedicated to the EcoCAR 2 program. Argonne’s Patrick Walsh introduced the session with a keynote speech about competitions and the diversity of engineering work that comes from competition students year after year. Walsh also served as session chair for this session as well as Advanced Propulsion Systems.

The student authors gave 20-minute slide presentations on their vehicle designs and Year One outcomes to a varied audience that included EcoCAR 2 faculty advisors, interested researchers, and industry experts. The session was a success and organizers hope to plan a session for the 2013 SAE World Congress, at which ten papers have already been submitted by EcoCAR 2 teams!

The competition is very grateful to SAE for providing EcoCAR 2 with this technical session. It allows EcoCAR 2 to showcase the hard work done by teams in not only designing, building and refining advanced technology vehicles, but also in communicating those designs to the public through technical papers and presentations. Thank you to SAE for all of the support for the EcoCAR 2 program!

Take a look at the slideshow below for more images of the EcoCAR 2 teams in action at the SAE meeting:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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The Ohio State University EcoCAR 2 team is collaborating with dSPACE, Inc. to help streamline the process for designing and integrating the control algorithms they are creating for their engine controller, transmission controller and vehicle supervisory controller in their vehicle. These team-programmed controllers will work together to allow the Ohio State Parallel-Series Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) to operate as efficiently as possible in charge depleting mode, charge sustaining series mode and charge sustaining parallel mode.

The Ohio State team uses dSPACE hardware and software to test each controller’s ability to communicate with the vehicle’s Controller Area Network (CAN), respond to different fault conditions and control its actuators. The team connects its team-programmed engine, transmission and vehicle supervisory controllers to the dSPACE Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) equipment. The HIL equipment contains a model of the team’s Parallel-Series PHEV that can be used to simulate the vehicle driving over a wide range of drive cycles.

Each of the controllers are connected to the HIL equipment through multiple CAN networks, which are similar to the CAN networks in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Working with the HIL equipment and its CAN network connections in Year 1 of the competition will help the team streamline the process of integrating each of the team-programmed controllers into the Malibu’s CAN network during Year 2 of the competition.

Additionally, the HIL equipment is used by the team to simulate different powertrain fault conditions while the vehicle model is running a drive cycle. Inserting fault conditions into a drive cycle allows the team to test each controller’s response to a wide variety of fault conditions the vehicle could see in normal operation in a laboratory setting. This testing gives the team a chance to make sure each of the controllers can take the right actions to safely mitigate a wide range of faults before the team starts to do in-vehicle testing this year.

Finally, the team connects some of the actuators for the engine and transmission to the HIL equipment to test each controller’s ability to move its actuators correctly. The actuators connected to the HIL include the linear actuators used to shift gears in the transmission and the engine’s throttle, fuel injectors and spark coils. Connecting these actuators to the HIL equipment during Year One allowed the team to fine-tune the algorithms used to control each of the actuators, so that the actuators have more robust, reliable operation when they are integrated into the vehicle during Year Two.

The hardware and software donated to the team from dSPACE has allowed the team to develop and test complex control strategies for the engine, transmission and supervisory controllers that enable the vehicle to operate as efficiently as possible in its charge depleting, charge sustaining series and charge sustaining parallel modes.

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Since June, Tyler Joswick has been the Clean Cities University Workforce Development (CCUWDP) intern at Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) in Columbus, Ohio. This is his story on how the collaboration between EcoCAR 2 and Clean Cities led to this amazing internship!

“I was first introduced to Clean Fuels Ohio and the Clean Cities Program through my involvement with The Ohio State University EcoCAR 2 Team last year, my final year of undergraduate education at The Ohio State University.

In my position as Co-Outreach Team Leader with the OSU EcoCAR 2 Team, I worked closely with Clean Fuels Ohio, collaborating on public outreach events. The EcoCAR program is a great way to showcase education and advanced vehicle technologies. It was a natural fit into almost any event or presentation by Clean Fuels Ohio.

The OSU Team worked closely with Clean Fuels Ohio on a few key events, including a public screening of the movie Revenge of the Electric Car and a green automotive display for the Columbus International Auto Show. Because of the number of events attended by both Clean Fuels Ohio and the EcoCAR Team, we even bought SWAG together: car wash sponges with our logos on them, so that even if you don’t have a hybrid, you can still drive clean!

Because of my experiences in website design, multimedia production and outreach with the EcoCAR team, I was qualified to be the CCWUDP intern at Clean Fuels Ohio while I get my MBA. So far this summer, I have helped redesign the Clean Fuels Ohio Website and I will soon be producing a series of success story videos.

My position with CFO would not be possible if it wasn’t for my participation in EcoCAR 2. I am enjoying my internship with CFO and hope to further the collaboration between both programs in the future!”

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Congratulations are in order! The Ohio State University and University of Victoria teams have won the MathWorks Modeling Award, which recognizes the teams’ use of MATLAB and Simulink for Model-Based Design during the first year of the EcoCAR 2 competition. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University also deserves praise for achieving third place.

The OSU team “really pushed the design envelope,” says Paul Smith, director of consulting services at MathWorks and lead EcoCAR 2 MathWorks mentor. “Their presenters could have easily been mistaken as seasoned veterans from the automotive industry,” he added in his praise of the OSU team’s work.

UVic performed extensive custom physical remodeling to develop fast running component models that can be integrated into the HIL real-time simulations as part of their Model-Based Design workflow. Smith notes that “The team has done impressive research into both off-line and on-line control and drive cycle optimization to recognize actual and predicted driving patterns.”

Embry Riddle received third place recognition for the team’s use of SimDriveline to develop fast and accurate system models that can be used for design tradeoff studies or real-time implementation. Their use of MATLAB and Simulink with Real-Time Workshop helped the team develop their vehicle fault detection, engine-generator controls, and diesel emission controls.

See how several EcoCAR 2 teams, including the winners of the MathWorks Modeling Award, are using Model-Based Design in this series of videos.

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The Ohio State EcoCAR 2 engineering team has been hard at work designing the vehicle’s mechanical, electrical and control systems.

The mechanical team has been figuring out how to package all the powertrain components in the vehicle and then create mounting brackets for them. One of the biggest challenges the team faces on the front powertrain is packaging the engine, the clutch between the engine and transmission, the front electric machine, the inverter and the 6-speed transmission in such a way that it fits within the width of the engine bay. Additionally the team has to make multiple adapter shafts for the front powertrain components, since each of the components has a different type of input shaft. As they found out over the past few months, every half inch of space they can save by selecting more compact components helps a lot!

On the rear powertrain, the mechanical team needs to find a way to mount the rear electric machine and single speed gearbox to the rear cradle they will be placing inside the Malibu. To complicate the rear powertrain problem even more, they also need to place an 18.9kW-hr battery pack in the trunk of the Malibu and the rear electric machine’s inverter, while still maintaining at least seven cubic feet of cargo space. Over the past several months the team probably went through at least 10 different configurations of the battery pack and rear powertrain components before finding one that worked.

The controls team also kept busy designing code for the team programmed controllers and setting up a dSPACE Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) system. For the EcoCAR 2 competition, the team decided to program its own engine controller, transmission controller and vehicle supervisory controller. Since they didn’t have their vehicle yet, the team created code for these three controllers and tested it on HIL equipment. The HIL equipment is essentially a powerful computer equipped with I/O boards that is capable of running a hybrid vehicle model in real time.

The HIL’s I/O boards are used to connect the three team-programmed controllers to the hybrid vehicle model through Controller Area Networks (CAN). The I/O boards are very useful because they allow the team to connect a variety of actuators to the HIL equipment, so they can make sure the code can move the actuators correctly. The team also set up its 6-speed transmission, its actuators and the transmission controller with the HIL equipment so that they could create the basic shift logic for the transmission before getting the Malibu this summer!

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Reporter Ken Belson wrote an excellent article about EcoCAR 2 for the New York Times last Friday. The article focuses on the fantastic opportunities available to EcoCAR competitors, both in gaining hands-on experience during the competition and in finding employment in the auto industry afterwards. Katherine Bovee, a member of Ohio State EcoCAR 2, and the rest of her team are highlighted in the piece. Check out the article here, and keep your eyes open for more media coverage coming out of Year One Finals in Los Angeles this week!

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