The Ultimate Challenge -- CarSim(R) Simulates Mustang-Camaro Showdown for Motor Trend
Monday April 3, 7:30 am ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Since its unveiling at the 2006 North American International Auto Show last January in Detroit, the Chevrolet Camaro concept has intrigued car lovers of all kinds. Will it perform like the Camaros of old? What engine, suspension, powertrain configurations will it carry? Will it go into production? When will it be available for purchase?
General Motors has not yet committed to a production version of the Camaro, Motor Trend magazine is taking the creative leap in its May issue. The magazine has pitted a series of production-possible Camaros against the Ford Mustang in several performance simulations to imagine how they will stack up against each other. And performing this ultimate simulation is Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Mechanical Simulation Corporation's CarSim? 6, a software package for simulating the dynamic vehicle behavior of cars, light trucks and utility vehicles.
"It was an exciting -- and challenging -- project to undertake," said Mechanical Simulation's Phil Mather, technical support specialist. "The data needed to create these simulations was hard to come by, so we had to make a lot of assumptions. But we were able to gather enough engineering data to make our assumptions pretty reliable."
CarSim animates simulated proving ground tests, including the "fish hook" test now required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and generates over 500 output variables that can be plotted and analyzed. The vehicle and chassis settings can be optimized with any DOE (design of experiments) software. Engineers in design, development, testing and planning activities use CarSim.
CarSim runs on Windows? desktop and laptop PCs, with an easy-to-use graphical user interface and includes an extensive database of vehicles and components. Output plots and animations can be inserted into reports and PowerPoint? presentations.
Simulations are an extremely cost-effective component of vehicle or chassis system design, according to Mike Sayers, Ph.D., CEO and chief technology officer. Typically components or vehicles had to be built in prototype form, then road-tested to obtain the kind of necessary information that will be critical to design decisions. "In addition, road testing must include driver-related variations that may or may not have an impact on the final vehicle dynamics," explained Dr. Sayers. "Simulated testing removes all those variables, resulting in a more realistic performance analysis."
For the Motor Trend simulation, Mather utilized a good deal of existing information about the 2006 Ford Mustang GT. "We worked with General Motors to get enough general information about the Camaro concept car suspension, tires, brakes, powertrain and performance targets to build a representative simulation in CarSim," he said. Next was 3D road information. "Although CarSim can duplicate any road input, for this simulation we used flat roads with no elevation or camber changes.
"Then we used existing performance results published by Motor Trend about the Ford Mustang GT to recreate those tests with the Motor Trend results as a target. This would level the playing field between the vehicles," Mather explained.
Seven different cars were tested by simulation for this experiment - the Mustang GT, three concept Camaros (with V6, LS2 and LS7 engines), a V6 Mustang and two theoretical Mustangs (Boss 330 with 389 hp and Shelby GT500 with 475 hp). CarSim performed four simulated tests on the vehicles:
- Figure 8 Test, using closed loop steering and speed controllers
- Acceleration from a clutch-drop start to measure quarter-mile times
- Braking, using anti-lock braking systems for both vehicles
- Slalom testing, with a constant target speed and closed loop steering
Mechanical Simulation's CarSim software is being used for a wide range of vehicle programs:
- Last fall, CarSim helped to lead two robotic race cars to second and
third place finishes in the DARPA Grand Challenge for the U.S.
military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Working with
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, CarSim was used to predict
vehicle behavior over a variety of road conditions on the 137-mile
desert road course.
- CarSim also offers racing teams a "virtual test track" for cost
effective chassis tuning without the chance for expensive component
wear, breakdown or accidents.
- Mechanical Simulation's BikeSim? can predict the response of a
motorcycle or scooter to its rider's actions, such as steering, lean,
braking and throttle. The system also incorporates such environmental
factors as aerodynamics, road geometry and friction.
- Likewise, Mechanical Simulation's TruckSim? 6 can simulate the real-
world effects of lateral load transfer on the vehicle's axles, as well
as many other elements of the performance of heavy-duty vehicles with
dual wheels, asymmetric steering systems, multiple axles and single or
- Truck driver training in simulators equipped with TruckSim can be used
to educate new drivers on roll-over prevention and truck behavior on
So, did the Mustang or the Camaro win the simulated challenge? For the answers, photographs and animations, look in the May 2006 edition of Motor Trend magazine, or visit www.motortrend.com
Mechanical Simulation Corporation is a technology leader in the development and distribution of advanced software used to simulate vehicle performance under a wide variety of conditions. Established in 1996, its Ann Arbor headquarters provides car, truck and motorcycle simulation packages, training and support to more than 20 OEMs, over 30 Tier 1 suppliers, and more than 60 universities and government research groups worldwide. For more information, visit www.carsim.com