Technology Strategy Board selects the ProtoDrive team to accelerate technology innovation across the UK automotive industry

The ProtoDrive consortium, comprising Romax Technology, cmcl innovations and the University of Sheffield, has been awarded funding by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), as part of the competition Technology Inspired Innovation in the technology area Big Data Exploration, aimed at applying advanced solutions to drive technology innovation across Britain's automotive industry.

The research and development project, which finishes in 2015, aims to implement a rapid concept design and analysis tool for application to the conventional, hybrid and electric vehicle market, with all parties providing support across the entire vehicle powertrain, including transmission, electric systems, and internal combustion engine design.

Currently, existing design solutions employed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are largely focused on optimising the performance of the vehicle driveline based on pre-existing design solutions.

The ProtoDrive project aims to assess hybrid and electric vehicle simulation processes and gives the user the capability to investigate and analyse multiple and often radically different design solutions at the initial concept stage. Therefore, users can achieve a bigger exploration of design space and significantly expand opportunity for innovation. In addition, users are able to investigate a wide variety of real-world driving styles, rather than just refer to the simple, legislative drive cycles.

The tool allows users to analyse critical key performance indicators such as vehicle performance, driveability, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Dr Amit Bhave, the CEO of cmcl innovations, said: "ProtoDrive involves the development of a virtual engineering simulation tool that solves a classic Big Data problem through the application of physics-based numerical models.  This solution enables vehicle designers to create and assess multiple vehicle concept designs efficiently, without compromising on quality. The technology provides a solution to the fast-growing HEV market."

Dr Kathryn Taylor, Project Lead at Romax Technology, commented: "Within the design space for hybrid and electric vehicles there is a clear need for rapid whole-system simulation to address the multiplicity of options at the concept stage.  Detailed analysis and simulation of every possible vehicle design is not currently feasible because of the high cost and computational time required. This is the need that ProtoDrive seeks to address."

"There's a clear gap in the market for rapid concept analysis of whole drivetrain systems, and this project has the potential to fill that gap and create something truly valuable for the automotive industry. We have an excellent consortium with complementary expertise in different domains, and we look forward to continuing to work together as the project progresses."

Prof. Kais Atallah, Professor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, stated: "In a fast paced market like vehicle design, it's imperative that dedicated and accurate tools are available to develop meaningful visualisation concepts that give a realistic vehicle-level description right at the start of any development. This tool will meet the demands of the visionaries and engineers working behind the scenes of this fast-paced environment."

After completion, the consortium is planning to release ProtoDrive for educational licenses as well as for commercial purposes.