22 May 2003
Engineers collaborate with new company to revolutionise car component development
Researchers at the University of Sussex have teamed up with an innovative engineering company to provide a vital service to improve cost, safety and time-to-market for new cars.
The collaboration, involving automotive engineers at the university and start-up company Engineering Verification Services (EVS), based at the Innovation Centre on the Falmer campus, will meet an important and growing demand for test services. Car companies will do less and less testing of new designs. Instead they will ask their suppliers to prove a component will last through the life of the vehicle.
"This kind of development is full of fundamental issues and a great research challenge. We will need to push the boundaries in computer based modelling of complex car components," says Professor Richard Stobart, head of automotive engineering.
EVS specialises in developing test methods for vehicle components. Traditionally, testing was carried out by the vehicle manufacturers and often involved hundreds of expensive prototype vehicles. But increasingly the suppliers of the vehicle parts are expected to do this themselves, but without the benefit of the vehicles. "We will have to calculate and experiment to find out what the component would do if it was in a prototype vehicle. We have to predict," Professor Stobart added.
Suppliers may not have the technical know-how, or the sophisticated equipment necessary for the task, which is why the test services offered by EVS will be invaluable.
Mike Burns, managing director of EVS, says: "At the moment it takes dozens of prototypes to develop a new car, which is a slow and costly process. We are developing new techniques, involving computer programmes to reduce the number of prototypes to just a handful and, ultimately, to make the end product both safer and cheaper to make.
"But there are unsolved and fundamental problems to do with computer modelling, which is where we'll be looking for help from the university."
Notes for editors
For more information, contact Professor Richard Stobart on 01273 672631
Press Office contacts: Jacqui Bealing or Peter Simmons, University of Sussex,
Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, J.A.Bealing@sussex.ac.uk or P.J.Simmons@sussex.ac.uk
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