Applied Vehicle Dynamics

While a variety of new engineering methods are becoming available to assist in creating optimal vehicle designs, subjective evaluation of vehicle dynamics is still required to deliver desired braking, handling, and acceleration attributes. In order to better prepare today’s engineer for this task, this course offers modules devoted to twelve key fundamental principles associated with longitudinal and lateral vehicle dynamics. Each focused classroom session is paired with an on-track exercise to immediately reinforce these concepts with a dedicated behind-the-wheel driving session, effectively illustrating these principles in the real world.

This seminar, in partnership with the BMW Performance Driving Centers in Greer, SC and Thermal, CA has been the leader in the industry since 2004; training automotive engineers as well as the training the trainers at leading engineering firms worldwide. 

Note that unlike most driving schools, this course is not designed to train performance drivers. Rather, the exercises on days one and two build the bridge between vehicle dynamics theory and practical application by providing a rich academic underpinning and then reinforcing it with highly focused and relevant driving experiences.

Significant technical skill-building is provided on day three, with increased instructor-supervised track time to further absorb the principles learned on days one and two. If your job description does require performance driving skills, the dynamic exercises on day three will lay a solid foundation on which you can independently refine your own skills.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 24 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.

What Will You Learn

By attending this seminar, you will be able to:
  • Explain tire-road friction limits and compose the friction circle for a given vehicle system
  • Compute fundamental braking response attributes
  • Illustrate the physics of turning and calculate lateral weight transfer
  • Estimate brake system balance and brake proportioning
  • Measure and graph a vehicle's understeer gradient
  • Analyze basic anti-lock brake system (ABS) operation
  • Discuss the effectiveness and limitations of electronic stability control (ESC) systems
  • Calculate the most efficient path for a vehicle to negotiate a given test maneuver
  • Comprehend the effects that test protocol can have on vehicle dynamics
  • Predict what response characteristics can be influenced by vehicle state
  • Define those vehicle dynamic attributes which can be impacted through vehicle selection

Is This Course For You

This course has been developed for engineers and technical personnel involved in all fields related to the design or development of vehicle dynamics, vehicle braking systems, powertrain systems, chassis systems, or suspension systems. In addition, this course can be valuable to those with component design responsibilities in brake, chassis, suspension, or tire disciplines who desire a fundamental background in vehicle dynamics with a practical driving linkage.

Materials Provided

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Course Requirements

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  • Longitudinal Slip and Weight Transfer
    • Defining vehicle dynamics and longitudinal slip
    • Longitudinal mu-slip relationship
    • Principles of longitudinal weight transfer
    • Friction circle concept
    • Driving exercise - orientation
  • Fundamentals of Straight-Line Braking
    • What do braking systems do?
    • How does each of the components contribute?
    • What are the underlying fundamental relationships?
    • Driving exercise - limit braking
  • Slip Angle and Transient Response
    • Slip angle and cornering stiffness
    • High-speed steering and transient response
    • Lateral weight transfer
    • Driving exercise - lane change
  • Braking Stability
    • Rear brake proportioning fundamentals
    • Braking stability
    • Rear brake proportioning in practice
    • Driving exercise - brake in a turn
  • Steady-State Cornering
    • The understeer gradient
    • Components of the USG
    • Driving exercise - Graphing the USG
  • Combining Lateral and Longitudinal Slip
    • Braking in a turn, turning while braking
    • Drive-off in a turn, turning during drive-off
    • Driving exercise - Avoidance maneuver
  • Anti-Lock Brake Systems
    • Stability, steerability, and stopping distance
    • Objectives and strategies of ABS
    • ABS performance
    • Driving exercise - Avoidance maneuver
  • Electronic Stability Control
    • Objectives and limitations of ESC
    • ESC detection and countermeasures
    • ESC performance
    • Driving exercise - Wet skidpad
  • Test Procedure Selection
    • Defining terms and concepts
    • Test circuit overview
    • Driving exercise - Baseline path
  • Test Procedure Sensitivity
    • Defining the apex
    • Driving the friction circle
    • Driving exercise - Path variation
  • Test Vehicle Sensitivity
    • Brief USG review
    • Impact of tire pressure adjustments
    • Driving exercise - Low pressure evaluation
  • Comparison Vehicle Evaluation
    • Comparison vehicle overview
    • Driving exercise - Lapping in comparison vehicle
  • Learning Assessment