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NI announces sponsorship of Ecocar competition

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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Feb 11, 2009

National Instruments will be a platinum sponsor for 'Ecocar: The Next Challenge' competition, in which students reengineer a 2009 Saturn VUE to reduce environmental impact.

As a platinum sponsor, NI is donating more than USD300000 (GBP200000) of engineering hardware and software to student teams, including NI Labview graphical system design software, CompactRIO in-vehicle embedded control systems and PXI modular simulation systems.

Teams will use these tools to design, prototype and deploy their vehicles and tackle the algorithm engineering challenges associated with developing advanced hybrid vehicles.

The Ecocar challenge is a three-year competition that gives engineering students the opportunity to design and build vehicles with next-generation technologies while gaining hands-on experience of the latest automotive engineering tools and techniques.

The competition is based on real-world automotive engineering practices that emphasise a model-based design approach.

Students will focus on the vehicle design and modelling in the first year, during which selected teams will use NI PXI hardware and the Labview Real-Time Module to develop hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations of their vehicles.

These HIL simulations will serve as virtual vehicles on which teams can test and validate advanced in-vehicle hybrid system controllers before the actual vehicle designs are assembled.

Students will use NI CompactRIO embedded controllers with Labview and systems from other sponsors to implement control models that optimise the interaction between electric motors, combustion engines and energy-storage systems.

When teams receive actual vehicles in the second year of competition, they will be able to integrate their controllers into those vehicles with minimal effort.

At the end of years two and three, students will use their Saturn VUE vehicles to compete in a weeklong series of competitions for proving-grounds testing and technical evaluation in categories including: fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions, dynamic performance, consumer acceptability and engineering practices.

Teams that receive NI systems will also receive ongoing training and support from National Instruments' engineers.

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