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Software to anticipate vehicle malfunctions being developed


Berlin : Cutting edge tools and software that will anticipate and prevent possible vehicular malfunctions are under development.

For example, trucks driving thousands of kilometres to deliver oranges from Greece to Scandinavia or Spanish vegetables to Germany, might break down midway, holding up supplies.

How can this problem be minimised, if not overcome? Testing potential flaws in wheel rims, engine or other parts required to work without failure over thousands of kilometres takes several weeks.

However, under Computer Aided Robust Design (CAROD) project, researchers from seven Fraunhofer Institutes are devising methods that can simulate such malfunctions before they happen. They are using the results to develop sturdy test rigs for life-cycle tests.

“Today the development and testing of prototypes, be they entire cars or individual components, takes place mainly in the computer,” said Andreas Burblies, spokesman of Fraunhofer Numerical Simulation Alliance.

But this simulation only reflects reality to a limited extent. “As a rule, there are no parts or manufacturing processes in which all product or process properties are identical.

“But the developers always get the same simulation results if they enter the same parameters.” This is where the researchers come in with their CAROD.

A pillar of the new technology is the Taguchi method. It is already applied in quality management, enabling the industry to achieve the optimum product quality.

The task of CAROD is to improve quality by taking faults, variations and breakdowns into account during the virtual design phase.