Vehicle Handling Simulation

Using our Multi Body Dynamics (MBD) software, Altair MotionSolve, we are able to simulate full vehicle models performing a range of vehicle dynamics tasks and maneuvers. We have worked with vehicles ranging from lightweight sports cars, through to heavy vehicles such as semi trailers and truck and dog combinations. We are continually developing our capabilities in this area and have some interesting projects on the horizon in this field.

(click here for front view of this animation)

Whilst there are a range of tools available to predict vehicle handling characteristics with varying degrees of complexity and accuracy, detailed MBD models are the closest thing you’ll get to having an actual test vehicle. Many vehicle handling software packages simplify the suspension systems down to a series of curves to define the motion of the wheel, which in many cases is sufficient for overall handling assessments.

MBD on the other hand, allows the user to model every link and joint within the suspension and steering systems. This in turn allows for detailed insight and understanding into not only how the overall vehicle handles, but how forces are transmitted through each joint and component in the suspension system. These forces can then be visualised on a graph or animation, and can also be exported for use in a Finite Element Analysis on any of the suspension components. Bodies can be made flexible to include any compliance effects that may occur, and non linear rates for springs and bushes can also be incorporated into the model to give the highest degree of accuracy.

Tyre forces are an important part of any full vehicle handling simulation. Our simulations use the widely accepted Pacejka Magic Formula, whereby a range of coefficients are input into mathematical equations to define the various forces and moments acting on the tyre. Again these forces can be plotted or animated to give a visual understanding of what’s going on at that all important contact patch between the rubber and the road.

Final suspension tuning will generally be done on an actual test vehicle, but using MBD to simulate vehicle handling in the early stages of design will save significant amounts of time and money, without requiring any physical hardware for testing. Major automotive manufacturers have been using this technology for years, and it’s now becoming widely accepted in smaller industries such as motorsport, modified vehicles and the heavy vehicle industry.

We’re excited to offer our vehicle handling simulation services to clients in these and other industries, and we welcome any questions you may have about how we can apply these tools to your next project.

About Brett Longhurst

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