The University of Tulsa has won the National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Graphical System Design Award at the third annual Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility competition. The team built an environmentally friendly crossover sports utility vehicle based on the National Instruments LabVIEW graphical design environment. Challenge X, which took place in Detroit, Michigan, from 30 May to 7 June, is a four-year engineering competition to develop methods for reducing total energy consumption and emissions in a crossover vehicle while maintaining or exceeding vehicle performance and consumer acceptability.
One of the primary challenges in developing a hybrid vehicle is balancing electric and engine power while maintaining the charge on the vehicle's batteries. The University of Tulsa team developed all of its vehicle's control algorithms, including clutch control, torque filtering and power blending, using LabVIEW. With the NI CompactRIO embedded control and data acquisition system and CAN, the team implemented its control strategies and sent commands to existing vehicle control hardware, which included the engine and body control modules. The team also added extra devices, including a battery pack and electric motor. The driver interface touch panel ran LabVIEW and incorporated a rear back-up camera using NI-IMAQ for USB Cameras software.
Scott Rainwater, Controls Team Leader for the University of Tulsa, comments: "NI LabVIEW helped us focus more on what we wanted our system to do and less on the low-level details of implementation. We saved many hours of testing and development time with the intuitive graphical system design environment of the software and easily shared code among team members."
About the award
The National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Graphical System Design Award recognises the schools that implement industry-standard computer technology with powerful application software and cost-effective hardware in their vehicle designs. The award encourages ChallengeX teams to use commercial, off-the-shelf PC-based technology to create sophisticated measurement, control, simulation, prototyping and testing applications. Teams are judged on design philosophy and control strategy, implementation of virtual instrumentation solutions, the strategies they used to overcome challenges encountered during implementation, and schematic diagrams of the NI products in the vehicle.
The University of Waterloo received came second based on its hardware-in-the-loop test (HILT) stand using LabVIEW, PXI and the LabVIEW Simulation Interface Toolkit, while Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology came third for its model-in-the-loop (MIL) on a PXI real-time platform using LabVIEW and the LabVIEW Simulation Interface Toolkit.
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