Prodrive steers engineers into virtual reality

Motorsport technology specialist Prodrive has produced what it claims to be the world’s first virtual reality chassis dynamics simulator.

The company has combined computer video game and CAD technology to allow chassis and powertrain engineers to test drive their designs while they are still on the drawing board.

Prodrive said that most work in these areas is currently carried out on prototype vehicles late in the development process. This makes alterations to active dynamics management systems, such as electronic stability control, more expensive and time-consuming than if done at an earlier stage in the programme.

The simulation system was developed by Banbury-based Prodrive in conjunction with an undisclosed designer of simulation software, which has experience in the aerospace industry.

Prodrive claims the simulator can replicate to within a few percentage points of measurements how the car would really respond on the road.

Ben Sayer, a spokesman for Prodrive, said: ‘We gave the designer all the mathematical modelling, so instead of a video game you have a true reflection of performance.’

Engineers currently use the simulation system by sitting in a Prodrive sports seat in front of a large computer monitor.

However, the company eventually plans to build it into an actual car, with images projected onto the windscreen, and to develop ways of making the driver’s body move with the ‘virtual vehicle’.

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