The optimisation of vehicle ride and handling performance is directly linked to the vehicle’s safety and comfort characteristics. Vehicle dynamics is concerned with the vehicle’s ride and handling characterisation, i.e. the vehicle’s response to excitations from the road and the driver’s inputs, and their optimisation through passive suspension design, and active control of steering, suspension, brakes and power/drivetrain.

Key challenges include accurate characterisation of the interaction between the vehicle and the environment, mainly through tyre forces, and the performance of passive and active systems in the presence of uncertainties, e.g. changes in vehicle mass under different loading, and changes in road adhesion.

Our expertise in the field includes:

  • Control design for active chassis systems;

  • Numerical simulation and optimisation;

  • Vehicle dynamics and tyre force modelling.

Our academic staff have extensive track records of research projects funded by UK and European research councils (Innovate UK, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Commission projects), as well as research contracts with leading companies in the field, including AVL, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, MIRA and Williams.

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Our facilities

We have developed a state-of-the-art Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) vehicle dynamics simulation facility for the calibration and development of control algorithms for active chassis systems. The facility consists of:

• dSPACE driving simulator
• MicroAutobox control unit and several automotive grade electro-mechanical actuators such as an EPAS steering system and an ABS braking module.

The facility is also used to develop active chassis control systems for HEV vehicles such as torque vectoring and regenerative braking systems. The facility can accommodate any vehicle power/drive-train configuration, allow for the integration of different subsystems within the actual vehicle’s electronics hardware, and can lead to considerable reduction of calibration time during development.

We also support vehicle dynamics research with commercial software such as:

• IPG CarMaker
• Mechanical Simulation CarSim
• VI Grade Car-realtime.

Working with us

We have a long history of working closely with the industry to investigate complex engineering problems and emerging technologies.

Our interaction with the industry is either through joint research projects funded by research councils (e.g. Technology Strategy Board) or direct collaborative research. We offer the possibility of providing academic supervision to PhD or MSc students to work on a research topic to address specific demands from the industry.

We provide expertise in vehicle ride and handling performance analysis, vehicle dynamics and tyre force modelling and control design for active chassis control systems, as well as access to state-of-the-art Hardware-in-the-loop simulation facility and commercial and custom made vehicle dynamics simulation and analysis software.