Stratiform motion system, Hardware-in-the-Loop and other new features present drivers and engineers with more realism in automotive simulation.
Ansible Motion’s approach to virtual testing differs to that of other manufacturers of driving simulators. Starting with the premise that for a simulator to be an effective engineering tool, it must generate 100% driver mental engagement, it has focussed on stimulating the driver’s senses, in particular the vestibular system. “Only when a driver jumps out of a simulator, detailing the aerodynamic and suspension changes that need to be made have we done our job,” says Phil Morse, technical liaison, Ansible Motion. “From the outset, we understood that to achieve the highest level of mental engagement between the driver and the simulator, we had to create the machinery and systems to align with the expectations of the driver’s senses.”
By avoiding legacy hexapod architectures, a carry-over from the aircraft industry in the 1960s that some manufacturers are content to persist with, Ansible Motion believes its industry-unique stratiform motion system delivers a truly novel and compelling experience. With the basics clearly right, underlined by multiple clients in F1, NASCAR and numerous OEMs, its focus has turned to the supplementary cues that add an additional layer of realism that drivers are now appreciating.
“The big cues such as motion and graphics are well understood but we found that using our R&D simulator in our quest to create the ultimate virtual driving experience, it was the small details that are now delivering the sense of realism craved by drivers and engineers alike,” suggests Morse.
From the more pertinent Helmet Loading System that Ansible Motion has started delivering to motorsport clients in the past year, the firm has recently introduced additional refinements with options such as rear-view emulators and deeper hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) integration for steering wheel functions.
“Offering rear view via wing mirrors or a centre mirror – a mainstay in OEM work – has unexpectedly delighted the racing and test drivers coming through our facility,” adds Morse. “For categories such as WEC or NASCAR where looking behind is as crucial as looking forward, we can now replicate the driver workload and total field of view. It’s another piece of the jigsaw to create a more realistic scenario of what happens on track.”
Professional drivers are impressed by what Ansible Motion is delivering. “Dean Stoneman commented that our Delta sim ‘coaxed’ him into behaving as if he were in a real car and he could study performance in the sim just as he would in the real car. We hope this means there’s real value to a session,” says Morse.
In addition to the rear-view emulation, Ansible Motion has been developing accurate simulator connectivity for the increasingly complex steering wheels used nowadays. “Engineers like not only being able to replicate the functions found in the real car, often integrating hardware to give representative results for features such as traction control, virtual safety car or battery management but also to monitor how the driver copes and what can be done within the rules to optimise this,” adds Morse. “In Formula E, for example, it can make a big difference to performance and we can help teams determine this in the most realistic way, short of on-track testing.”
“It’s clear from driving the simulator that the engineers at Ansible Motion truly understand the issues faced in simulation,” adds FIA F3 front runner Callum Ilott. “Drawing on their experience has helped them to create something very different from a normal simulator.”