Almost every automotive manufacturer is looking at optimising performance of its products through improving various parameters. Doing so requires the right kind of computational tools and software as they can greatly enhance the efficiency, while lowering costs. MathWorks is a global major in this domain and offers solutions to multiple industries including automotive. Auto Tech Review caught up with Wensi Jin, Automotive Industry Manager, Americas and Asia Pacific, MathWorks to know more about the solutions the company has come up with in recent times.
Model-Based Design (MBD), from the company is something which is expected to generate growth for the business in India and other markets. The concept of MBD is to use a computer generated model to capture the system behaviour. Within the model, engineers can then carry out simulation activities. Jin told us that using MathWorks tools allows one to design beyond the low-level components and instead model the entire system.
In case of a hybrid vehicle, there are more design options due to the difference in vehicle characteristics, when compared with a conventional vehicle. Engineers need to evaluate hundreds of options before deciding upon a few, of which even fewer are finalised to make a prototype vehicle.
Jin said MathWorks tools allow engineers to build system level models, wherein they can play with various options, achieve design trade-offs and size the components. This flexibility allows for system and component level design capabilities at the same time. Such flexibility is of great use since the amount of electronics in cars is growing at a fast pace and solitary design approach is no longer the only solution. More importantly, using these tools allows for a reduction in number of prototype vehicles, which typically cost high.
Another way of reducing costs through MBD is through cutting down on the inefficiencies arising during the development cycle. According to Jin, product development isn’t a very huge cost in itself but the inefficiencies spikes up the cost. Using MathWorks tools significantly increases the efficiencies and reduces development time, which leads to significantly lower costs.
NECESSITY OF SENSORS
Engine management systems for example are getting complex by the day and as emission norms tighten, there would be more sensors being built in. The MathWorks approach, however, asks when it is absolutely essential to have a new sensor. It should be seen if there are ways of inferring readings from existing sensors as that can be easier in some cases. In some cases there could be a choice between a virtual sensor (smart software) and physical sensor.
Taking that decision can be done by using MBD, as one can carry out simulation using various types of data. This will help one understand if a sensor can be done away with, while retaining the planned functionality, and thereby leading to lesser cost. At this stage one also needs to plan the failure scenario and how the system would react in case of a sensor failure. All such variables can be accounted for using the MBD, said Jin.
In India, Tata has in the past used MBD to prototype the engine management system for the Nano. In line with the low-cost strategy for Nano, using MBD allowed Tata to carry out numerous simulations and confirm that they can remove two sensors, leading to lower cost. Mahindra too in the recent past has used MBD to optimise chassis design on some of its vehicles.
Jin expects the business to grow at a healthy pace in India and almost every OEM here is already using MathWorks tools in some or the other way. Although electronic content isn’t very high in vehicles in India presently, the demand for lower emissions, better safety and improved infotainment features is getting stronger. With each one of these offerings depending on software, MBD is expected to continue creating solutions and growth for the company and its customers.
Text: Arpit Mahendra