Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autonomie: Vehicle Model-based Design Tool @ APRF

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 is a Plug-and-Play Powertrain and Vehicle Model Architecture and Development Environment to support the rapid evaluation of new powertrain/propulsion technologies for improving fuel economy through virtual design and analysis in a math-based simulation environment.

Autonomie is an open architecture to support the rapid integration and analysis of powertrain/propulsion systems and technologies for rapid technology sorting and evaluation of fuel economy improvement under dynamic/transient testing conditions. The capability to sort technologies rapidly in a virtual design environment results in faster improvements in real-world fuel consumption by reducing the time necessary to develop and bring new technologies onto our roads.

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.

Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF)

APRF dyno
Researcher Forrest Jehlik at the APRF
Researcher Forrest Jehlik watches over dynamometer testing.
Argonne’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF) enables researchers to conduct vehicle benchmarking and testing activities that provide data critical to the development and commercialization of next-generation vehicles.
APRF engineers use the facility’s two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) dynamometers and state-of-the-art instrumentation to reveal important information on performance, fuel economy, energy consumption and emissions output.
The APRF is capable of testing conventional, hybrid and advanced electrical propulsion systems using a variety of standard and renewable fuels in a precise laboratory environment.


Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the automotive industry, Argonne’s vehicle research helps provide solutions to significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions. Vehicle data obtained in the APRF is used to:
  • Support the DOE in evaluating current and future technologies and developing transportation goals and policy for petroleum displacement
  • Aid in the development and optimization of advanced technologies to expand commercial applications
  • Demonstrate alternative fuel benefits and promote energy diversity
  • Provide unbiased research results for many stakeholders


The APRF's features include:
  • Four-wheel drive (4WD) chassis dynamometer facility for road load simulation, monitoring of tractive effort, coastdown and calibration for vehicles up to 14,000 pounds
  • Two-wheel drive (2WD) chassis dynamometer facility for road load simulation, monitoring tractive effort, coastdown and calibration for 2WD vehicles up to 12,000 pounds
  • MATT (Modular Automotive Technology Testbed) that allows researchers to easily add, rearrange, and interconnect various vehicle components
  • Ability to run a wide range of fuels including gasoline, diesel, renewable fuels, hydrogen (both fuel cells and internal combustion) and natural gas
  • Ability to measure the particulate and criteria emissions of Super Ultra-low Emissions Vehicles (SULEV) for gasoline, diesel, renewable fuels and hydrogen
  • Flexible, in-house data acquisition systems to evaluate conventional, hybrid, hydrogen and electric vehicles


The APRF's state-of-the-art equipment includes:
  • SULEV-certified emissions benches
  • Particulate measurement system
  • Fast flame ionization detection
  • Fast NOx measurement system
  • Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometer
  • High power tester
  • Mobile emissions benches
  • In-house developed mobile CAN data logger
  • Safety system capable of detecting all hazardous gases, heat and smoke
  • Air handling system that cleans and conditions test air within Environmental Protection Agency certification limits

Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT)

Argonne's Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT)
Argonne automotive engineers Thomas Wallner (left) and Henning Lohse-Busch put an engine through its paces on Argonne's Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT).
The development of Argonne’s Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT) has changed the way researchers evaluate advanced technology components and perform vehicle system research.
“One of the major advantages of MATT is that it allows us to separately test and benchmark individual components as they work in a system,” said Argonne engineer Henning Lohse-Busch.

MATT has been compared to an automotive Erector Set because of its modular approach which enables the benchmarking of different engines, transmissions and other core powertrain components.

With this flexibility, Argonne automotive engineers can evaluate specific parts in a full vehicle instead of building an entire prototype vehicle, which can cost considerable time and money to build. MATT’s test results help researchers understand which combination of components will result in a vehicle that best meets efficiency, emissions, and performance targets.

The test platform looks like a vehicle stripped down to its bare essentials. Its base is a frame with wheels, but the testbed is outfitted with the different component modules which make up the vehicle powertrain. The scalable, virtual hybrid module enables MATT to operate as a conventional vehicle, a hybrid or even a pure electric vehicle with a virtually infinitely large battery pack while using the exact same hardware.
When used with Argonne’s Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT and PSAT-PRO) along with component hardware-in-the loop (HIL) principals, MATT allows researchers to:
  • Add, rearrange and interconnect a variety of systems and components
  • Emulate a different vehicle behaviors (conventional, hybrid and electric vehicle)
  • Have complete flexibility of implementing any energy management and torque split strategies
  • Measure physical energy consumption and emissions data over drive cycles
  • Equip selected systems and components with instrumentation


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