The Vehicle Terrain Performance Lab (VTPL) has adopted a holistic approach toward its research, investigating all aspects of vehicle-terrain interactions, and using a broad range of measurement, analysis, and modeling tools. This approach allows the researchers to broaden their expertise while gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamental issues that are involved in improving vehicle system performance.
The vehicles being studied include passenger cars and trucks, commercial vehicles, military vehicles, motorcycles, and more. Critical components of the vehicle system are studied in detail: tires, dampers, and other chassis and steering components. Racetracks, proving grounds, highways, residential streets, and off-road trails are all important terrain to be studied. Understanding how the terrain and the vehicle interact to affect performance is the founding research goal of the lab.
Understanding the vehicle responses resulting from a vehicle traversing terrain is critical in predicting and improving vehicle system performance. This requires a thorough understanding of tire dynamics, chassis design, and vehicle dynamics, and the ability to accurately model these dynamics. Vehicle performance includes the prediction of objective metrics for handling, chassis durability and reliability, and the development of durability testing schedules. Performance can also be the subjective perception of a passenger when traveling in a vehicle; in which case haptics, bio-dynamics, and psychometrics are crucial.
Our research mission is pursued through research in four broadly classified areas of expertise: Terrain Measurement, Terrain Modeling, Vehicle Modeling, and Performance Prediction.