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A Vehicle Dynamics Design and Simulation Tool for Capstone Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Design Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.121.1 - 22.121.17



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Paper Authors


John E. Pakkala Milwaukee School of Engineering

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John E. Pakkala is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Before coming to MSOE, he spent more than twenty years as a special machine designer and was involved with the design, construction and installation of machines and manufacturing automation equipment for automotive, aerospace, and defense industry clients. Dr. Pakkala earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University. His Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University were in the area of dynamic control theory and system identification. He has published papers in fluid mechanics, internal combustion engine controls, system identification, and engineering education. He consults in the areas of manufacturing engineering and in vehicle crash reconstruction. He is currently the director of an exchange program for mechanical engineering students between MSOE and the Fachhochschule Lübeck in Lübeck, Germany.

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A Vehicle Dynamics Design and Simulation Tool for Capstone ProjectsA vehicle dynamics simulation tool for use by student design teams has been developed as a partof an exchange program between participating universities. Students participating in theexchange program, both domestic and foreign, complete a Senior Capstone Design project andadditionally write a Diploma Thesis as part of earning degrees from both universities. Thesimulation tool is meant for use in the early stages of the design of four-wheeled vehicle projectssuch as the SAE Mini-Baja challenge or the SAE Formula competition. The simulation tool,developed from first principles, uses MATLAB and Simulink which simulates a14-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) system. The model can accommodate different suspension linkages and allowsanti-roll bars in the simulation. The model is also capable of simulating Ackermann, parallelsteering and reverse Ackermann steering. Non-linear tire modeling simulates turning forces fromdifferent types of tires on various surfaces. Results of low speed cornering simulation areverified by a physical test with a passenger vehicle at low velocities. The results of the highvelocity cornering analysis are cross-referenced with findings in vehicle dynamics literature.Simulations provide turning radius estimation and the determination of the understeer andoversteer behavior of the vehicle. Suspension impact forces and suspension travel in cases ofimpact from a user specified height are included.The design and simulation tool is open-source allowing future teams access to the software forfuture updates or revisions. A tutorial is included that provides teams with instructions on thesoftware usage, facilitating the decision-making process earlier in the capstone design schedulethan would otherwise be possible.

Pakkala, J. E. (2011, June), A Vehicle Dynamics Design and Simulation Tool for Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17403

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