Control For Energy and Sustainability

EPSRC Programme Grant

Project EET-C: Dynamics and Control for Improved Aero-Dynamical Efficiency

Manager: David Limebeer

Investigator: David Limebeer

Research Staff: Matthew Arthington (from October 2010)

Sponsor: Spirit Motorcycles

Start date: 01/10/2009

Linked Projects: UT-A and UT-C

Summary. Motor sport is the traditional proving ground for a wide range of transport-related technologies. For example, the governing body of international motor sport, the FIA, has introduced the use of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems for the 2009 season, with all cars becoming hybrid by 2013. Where appropriate, technology advances achieved will translate into technology upgrades for mass-transport vehicles. This project is motivated by the fact that reductions in vehicular mass and aerodynamic drag will both result in significant reductions in engine power and fuel consumption requirements. At high speed, virtually all of the vehicle's engine power is used to overcome aerodynamic drag-related losses. While at low speed, virtually all of the engine's torque is used to accelerate the vehicle's mass. Significant mass and drag reductions require fundamental design changes, which will impact on virtually every aspect of the vehicles geometry, mass distribution, steering and suspension. Advanced systems and optimization theory will be used to reduce the vehicular mass and aerodynamic drag, while simultaneously enhancing the machine's dynamic performance.

The aim of this project is to work with Spirit Motorcycle Technology on the design optimization of a new low-drag low-mass motorcycle, and draw broader conclusions on achieving improved fuel efficiency across the land-vehicle sector. The project will combine the expertise of the university research team in the relevant areas of control system design (Projects UT-A, UT-C and UT-D), as well as the vehicle dynamics expertise of the participating universities, Spirit Motorcycle Technology and its associated collaborating industries. The vehicle dynamics will be studied using state-of-the-art computer modelling, while its design performance will be optimized through a careful selection of its many geometric, mass, inertia, suspension and steering-related parameters. Mass and drag reductions must be considered alongside the vehicle's stability and dynamic performance.

Current status: Most of the effort so far has been focussed on the development of high-fidelity computer models for the ES1 concept machine. The key variations (relative to a conventional machine) include a novel double-wishbone steering system, a double-chain power train and a novel passive suspension system, which all work in concert to reduce the aerodynamic drag. The modelling work is now almost complete with the main results in the publications process. Included in this work will be the possibility of an all-electric variant that will be based on a YASA (yokeless and segmented armature) drive motor and lithium polymer battery power supply. The all-electric machine will continue to be an active component of this research.

Since the last report the energy-efficient transport theme has started work on a new industry-led project that relates to clean internal combustion engines, which is being supported by Ricardo. This work relates to combustion modelling and control. There are many approaches in the literature which apply techniques to reduce the complexity of the challenging task of combustion modelling. In particular the work can be broken down into modelling the fuel spray as it is injected into the cylinder and then the subsequent combustion. Matlab models have been set up to cover the spray and some of the mixing processes. Contact has been made with Graz University for guidance and clarification on their combustion approach, Cambridge University who have a detailed chemistry modelling tool which may be useful for validating simpler models and Imperial College for their expertise in FPGA processors which may be used to implement these models.

Dr Roberto Lot from the University of Padova visited Imperial College during Sept. Nov. 2012. During this period he was a co-organizer of a workshop at Oxford University, following up on the Modelling of Multi-body Systems workshop at Imperial College in November 2011. Dr Lot discussed modelling tools and modelling platforms, of potential benefit to this project. He also gave seminars on areas of common interest, including applications of optimal control to hybrid vehicle control.


[SL11] A.Sharma and D.J.N.Limebeer, Design of a novel aerodynamically efficient motorcycle, Vehicle System Dynamics, Volume 50, Issue 8, pp1319-1340, 2012

[SL12] A. Sharma and D. J. Limebeer, Motorcycle suspension design using matrix inequalities and passivity constraints, Vehicle System Dynamics, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp377-393, 2012

[ELT11] S. A. Evangelou, D. J. N. Limebeer and M. Tomas-Rodriguez, Suppression of Burst Oscillations in Racing Motorcycles, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, J. Appl. Mech. 80, 1, 2012

[ELT10] S.A.Evangelou, D.J.N.Limebeer and M.Tomas-Rodriguez, Suppression of burst oscillations in racing motorcycles, 49th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Atlanta Georgia, December 15-17 2010, Dec., 2010

[LS10] D. J. N. Limebeer and A. Sharma, Burst Oscillations in the Accelerating Bicycle, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, Vol 77, 6, Nov., 2010

[LS10b] D.J.N.Limebeer and A.Sharma, Design of a novel aerodynamically efficient motocycle, Proceedings of the Symposium on the Dynamics and Control of Single Track Vehicles, Delft The Netherlands, Oct., 2010

[LS10a] D.J.N.Limebeer and A.Sharma, Motorcycle suspension design using matrix inequalities with passivity constraints, Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Advanced Vehicle Control, Loughborough UK (Also selected for inclusion in a special issue of Vehicle Systems Dynamics) , Aug., 2010