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6 Simulations to Optimize Your Off-Road Vehicle

Conrods off-road vehicle wins second prize at BAJA SAE India, 2018. The team notes that simulation gave them an edge on race day

Engineers itching for their off-road vehicle to win a race need to put simulation in the driver’s seat of design.

Racing teams don’t have time to make thousands of prototypes between races. Therefore, simulation is the only way to iterate designs before reaching the starting line.

For instance, check out The Conrods Off- road Racing team from the SRM Institute of Science and Technology. Its students have over nine years of experience and numerous accolades, including winning BAJA SAE India.

What’s The Conrods’ fast lane to the finish line? For the past seven years, the student team has optimized its designs using ANSYS simulation software.

“ANSYS helped us simulate and find balance in our designs without having to physically test them,” says Ashutosh Chauhan, The Conrods’ team captain. “We designed and manufactured all components in-house. ANSYS generated good quality meshes and produced quick results.”

How Six Simulations Turned The Conrods Off-road Vehicle into a Winner

Structural analysis of suspension components

The main objective to optimize an off-road vehicle for race day is to make it as light and durable as possible.

The Conrods performed six simulations to optimize their designs for both functionality and lightweighting.

These simulations included:

  1. Static structural analysis.
  2. Buckling analysis.
  3. Explicit dynamics.
  4. Thermal analysis.
  5. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
  6. Modal analysis.

The team carried out static structural analysis on each component of the vehicle to achieve a good strength-to-weight ratio. The Conrods also performed other simulations on parts that needed to be optimized for multiple factors. These additional simulations helped the team discover competing factors and determine a balance between them.

Static structural analysis of the gear box of The Conrods’ off-road vehicle.

For instance, The Conrods used thermal analysis and structural analysis to optimize its gearbox. The result is that their design is now balanced between having a good strength-to-weight ratio and heat distribution.

The team also found that composites were a good material to use when reducing the weight of a vehicle. These materials are light and strong but are notoriously hard to simulate.

The [ANSYS Composite PrepPost] package helped us design various load-bearing composite components like our suspension, steering linkages and prototype transmission gearbox,” adds Chauhan.

This team didn’t just focus on structural simulations. In fact, one of their most successful optimizations comes from their CFD work in ANSYS Fluent.

The Conrods performed the CFD simulation to reduce the back pressure of their catalytic converter. The resulting part was so successful that the team received praise from racing officials.

Conrods’ catalytic converter design in ANSYS Fluent Buckling analysis of a tie rod

The Conrods have also taken safety to heart when designing their off-road vehicle. As a result, it also performed a buckling analysis of key components such as the tie rod within the steering mechanism.

These buckling simulations ensure that no matter how many bumps the vehicle experiences, nothing gets bent out of shape.

Competition in Student races is stiff. As a result, The Conrods are not the only team using simulation to improve its chances of success.

If you wish to learn more about the simulations they performed and how you can perform them yourself, see if your student team is eligible for a free download of ANSYS simulation software.