European space Agency start-up has designs on more down-to-earth problems
20 May 2013
An ESA business incubation start-up company is helping major car manufacturers to develop electric vehicle concepts and improve safety systems.
"Foreseeing products by modelling and simulations can provide big jump-starts for companies,” explains Johannes Gerl, founder and CEO of German start-up company Modelon GmbH. "They reduce their development efforts by saving on the number of prototypes. In addition, they often reduce the time to market.”
Supported during their start-up phase by ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria, the company's Modelica simulation libraries are now used by industry in several countries for modelling the behaviour of complex automotive and energy systems.
Engineers at Japan’s Toyota company use Modelon’s simulation libraries to help them develop novel e-mobility vehicle concepts such as their i-Real for easy city transportation and short commuting. Small, electric and lightweight, i-Real is almost an armchair controlled by two joysticks. Toyota modelled, simulated and optimised the vehicle with Modelon’s Vehicle Dynamic libraries.
Another customer is Sweden’s Volvo. Here, engineers use Modelon’s libraries for improving car safety systems. Real-life testing using physical prototypes is time-consuming, expensive and often unsafe for the test drivers.
"If you can represent the vehicle behaviour with a mathematical model, you have a great platform for active safety system development,” said Per Ola Fuxin, Manager, Active Safety Functions at Volvo Cars.
Complete vehicle models can be created from construction data and physical tests, and the results can be validated against similar real-life test cases.
"The overall aim is to help our customers save money by using virtual simulation methods and save the number of real prototypes, thereby reduce the development effort,” says Magnus Gäfvert, CEO Modelon AB.