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Graphical design software aids sports vehicle development

The University of Tulsa has won the National Instruments' award for the 'Most innovative use of graphical system design' at the third annual Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility competition. The team built an environmentally friendly crossover sports utility vehicle based on the National Instruments LabView graphical design environment.

Challenge X, which took place in Detroit from May 30 to June 7, is a four-year engineering competition to develop methods for reducing total energy consumption and emissions in a crossover vehicle while maintaining or exceeding vehicle performance and consumer acceptability.

One of the primary challenges in developing a hybrid vehicle is balancing electric and engine power while maintaining the charge on the vehicle’s batteries. The University of Tulsa team developed all of its vehicle's control algorithms, including clutch control, torque filtering and power blending, using LabView. With the NI CompactRIO embedded control and data acquisition system and CAN, the team implemented its control strategies and sent commands to existing vehicle control hardware, which included the engine and body control modules. The team also added extra devices, including a battery pack and electric motor. The driver interface touch panel ran LabView and incorporated a rear back up camera using NI-IMAQ for USB Cameras software.

'NI LabView helped us focus more on what we wanted our system to do and less on the low-level details of implementation,' said Scott Rainwater, Controls Team Leader for the University of Tulsa. 'We saved many hours of testing and development time with the intuitive graphical system design environment of the software and easily shared code among team members.'

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