Building hardware is expensive. Traditional design paradigms in the automotive industry often delay control system design until late in the process — in some cases requiring several costly hardware iterations. To reduce costs and improve time to market, it is imperative that greater emphasis be placed on modeling and simulation. This only becomes truer as time goes on because of increasing complexity of vehicles, a greater number of vehicle configurations, and larger numbers of people working on projects, which complicates design choices. To fully realize the benefits of math-based design, the models created must be as flexible and reusable as possible.
Since 1999, Argonne National Laboratory has been developing a vehicle simulation tool to assess the fuel consumption and performance of advanced vehicles. The software, Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT), has become widely accepted by industry and has been licensed to more than 130 companies, universities, and research laboratories worldwide with more than 750 users. PSAT has been used to support many research expertise related to advanced vehicles. However, the increased complexity and diversity of the technologies led to a partnership, initiated by General Motors in 2007, to develop the next generation of automotive simulation tools. In the past three years, Argonne has developed a new tool, called Autonomie, to accelerate the development and introduction of advanced technologies through plug-and-play architecture.
Autonomie has been designed to be used as a single tool throughout the different phases of Model Based Design of the Vehicle Development Process (VDP). Model Based Design is a math-based visual method for designing complex control systems and is being used successfully in many motion control, industrial, aerospace, and automotive applications. It provides an efficient methodology that includes four key elements in the development process: modeling a plant (from first principles or system identification), synthesizing and analyzing a controller for the plant, simulating the plant and controller together, and programming/deploying the controller. Model Based Design integrates all these multiple phases and provides a common framework for communication throughout the entire design process.
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