Narayan Kar and Matteo Pizzuto check the connectionsCHARGE lab director Narayan Kar and grad student Matteo Pizzuto check the connections between a vehicle in Windsor and operators at a conference in Germany.

Exhibit to connect Windsor Engineering with international industry

The University of Windsor is giving attendees at a conference in Germany a chance to try a remote-control car with a difference: it’s a full-size vehicle more than 6,500 km remote.

A team from Windsor Engineering has set up a connection between the Centre for Engineering Innovation and the Hannover Messe Expo, the world’s trade fair catering to companies from the mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and digital industries.

Conferees, estimated at 130,000 passing through April 22 to 26, can sit in a simulated automotive cockpit and — in real time — operate a Ford Mustang Mach-E, mounted on a dynamometer in the Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) lab.

As they accelerate from 0 to 60 km/h, they will see a digital display of the vehicle’s acceleration and power outputs as if they were seated in the car, as well as data from the dynamometer of the torque on the front and rear axles. A video camera installed by the media production team in the Office of Public Affairs and Communications will provide a livestream of the vehicle’s exterior to the cross-Atlantic operators.

The concept was suggested by dean Bill Van Heyst.

“We were invited to participate in a delegation focused on electrical vehicle technologies by NGen Canada, the Global Innovation Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing,” he says. “We knew that we wanted the university to make an impact and nothing attracts more attention at a show like this than a hands-on experience.”

The University intends the demonstration to serve as a conversation starter, says Tom Schnekenburger, director of research partnerships.

“Showing off our remote capabilities is a way to say we have world-class research here and you can work with us from anywhere,” he says. “It will raise awareness in an audience of executives from some of the world’s biggest firms and hopefully generate some new partnerships.

“We can help companies get a little more creative with our infrastructure and expertise they don’t have in-house.”

Teams of students will ensure the smooth operation of the demonstration both in Hanover and in Windsor, where the time difference will mean staffing the lab each day starting at 2 a.m.

MASc student Matteo Pizzuto will troubleshoot any issues in the CHARGE lab.

He says the dynamometer is “like a treadmill for a car.” Custom-built for the lab and funded by NSERC, it allows operators to put vehicles through tests simulating a range of road conditions at speed while remaining stationary.

“It lets us take measurements of data from force exerted to powertrain efficiency, all without leaving the lab,” Pizzuto says.

It is part of the test infrastructure housed in the Centre for Engineering Innovation capable of driving battery-to-powertrain-to-wheel research promoting creativity, collaboration, and practical know-how to lead industry.

Narayan Kar, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the CHARGE Lab, says the demo does more than showcase Windsor Engineering’s capabilities in EV research.

“It also facilitates a path for cost-effective and efficient remote research and development,” Dr. Kar says. “With industry R&D professionals able to utilize such test methodology from their own research workspace to control our chassis dyno in Windsor, they’re generating authentic EV benchmarking data within our custom designed environment.”