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Ecocar Mobility Challenge | MotorWeek

by Ozva Admin
Ecocar Mobility Challenge | MotorWeek

With automotive technology evolving so rapidly, training the next generation of vehicle engineers can no longer be limited to traditional classrooms and books. Practical, real-world experience is crucial, which is why college automotive engineering competitions like the Ecocar Mobility Challenge are more important than ever. Well, the 2022 edition is already complete, so let’s count the results.

Ecocar Mobility Challenge is a 4-year competition in which 11 North American college teams were challenged to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Blazer SUV, while preserving or improving its utility, safety, and performance.

After a year of modeling and simulation, the teams received their vehicles for the second year and have been working on implementing their designs ever since. But the students also had to think about the “real world” in terms of packaging their components for fit and finish, drivability, and consumer acceptance.

Title sponsor General Motors provided the vehicles and encouraged teams to mimic its global vehicle design process, whereby GM develops its own prototype vehicles. They also hosted all 11 schools for this year’s finals at their proving grounds in Yuma, Arizona.

We caught up with the competition at Phoenix Raceway, where the media, sponsors and students from local schools were able to see the finished projects in motion and learn about some of the design challenges directly from the teams.

COLIN KELLETT: “To try to set ourselves apart from the competition, we tried to implement something you might find in hybrid vehicles today, with our own pedal-like regenerative drive mode. Um, this just so happens to be on the aggressive side, and the calibration processes were a bit difficult. Again, we were only allowed one mode of operation.”

The US Department of Energy contributed its own experience and organizational skills, with engineers from Argonne National Lab managing the competition. Evaluation is carried out after each competition year, measuring progress in terms of emissions, economy and component integration, as well as pure performance. And no matter what their results, the reward for the students in terms of knowledge and experience has been invaluable.

MARK SMITH: “The Department of Energy has been sponsoring these student competitions for more than 30 years. They’re important from a number of standpoints. First, we want to make sure teams are working on them, whether it’s alternative fuels or advanced technologies, and certainly this competition is focused on connected and automated vehicles, but what are these new and cutting-edge technologies that are coming to transportation, so it’s good that the teams are focusing on this because these are the future engineers that our will be working for. automotive companies, working for our national labs, even working for the DOE, so now they’re getting hands-on training with an OEM vehicle and really providing the experience they need to take on those future roles.”

After a grueling week of testing, Georgia Tech earned top team honors for 2022. Originally a six-cylinder, Georgia Tech’s ecocar team converted its Blazer into a hybrid four-cylinder vehicle with adaptive cruise control. Its vehicle-infrastructure communication technology allows it to “talk” to traffic lights and adjust its speed to optimize it.

Congratulations also to Ohio State for 2nd place and the University of Alabama for 3rd place.

Many innovative ideas came from the competition and no two cars are exactly alike. But amazingly, all eleven teams produced a drivable, near-production-ready vehicle envisioned, designed and built solely by college students.

BETHANY WELTY: “If you look at other cars, they’re all different. People have different engines, different battery sizes, different motors, different wheels. I think we’re the only people that have 18-inch wheels and also, the way we did our cargo space is different than anyone else’s. I think we actually kept the most cargo space, which is really cool.”

COLIN KNIGHT: “So, our vehicle is equipped with six radars, all around the car; three in the front, one on each side, and then one in the rear. There’s a Mobileye camera on the windshield. So, all six radars and the camera gives us a 360 degree field of view around the car and that gives us the ability to make those decisions about what the car should do on the open road we went through everything everything worked as intended so which was really encouraging.”

Best of all, the lessons learned in this classroom will benefit all of us as the next generation of automotive innovators take over!

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