New Ricardo Electrified Propulsion Research Centre: enhancing virtual calibration benefits

New Ricardo Electrified Propulsion Research Centre: enhancing virtual calibration benefits
18 March 2021

Leveraging his extensive cross-sector experience in calibration, Ricardo Calibration Solution Leader, Alistair Peel, sets out how he helps global transportation customers select Ricardo calibration capabilities and tools to deliver the best value for product development, and these benefits for calibration customers will be enhanced by the new Ricardo Electrified Propulsion Research Centre

Q: What is virtual calibration and what can it achieve? 

AP: Virtual calibration is the use of simulation results to calibrate electronic controllers for hardware. This is applicable to any electromechanical systems where a simulation model can represent the hardware. We use simulation results as a replacement for hardware test data to enable us to calibrate before the hardware is available and to reduce testing during development phase. 

Q: How is Ricardo’s virtual calibration capability unique in the market?  
AP: Ricardo’s virtual calibration capability is an integral part of Ricardo Efficient Calibration, which is our tools and processes to automate calibration and to reduce physical testing with virtual engineering. Where we differentiate is the ability to combine our Ricardo simulation software products, our advanced Application Control algorithms, our calibration tools and our integrated model-based developments simulation approach to quickly bring together a custom toolset which can deliver calibrations for our customers. Our industry-leading, real-time simulation software enables us to calibrate to a higher level of maturity, up to 70% maturity in many areas, so we can go further with our virtual calibration. Coupled with that, we can integrate these tools with our online calibration tools, which include machine learning optimisation techniques to achieve a better performing and more robust calibration.  

Q: What are some of the key features and benefits of virtual calibration from a customer's perspective? Why should customers work with Ricardo? 
AP: Virtual calibration enables you to take into consideration the impact of calibration earlier on in the product development lifecycle. Because virtual calibration does not require any hardware it means that we can calibrate using simulation earlier on in the product development process. Consequently, when we are defining systems and subsystems, we can consider the impact of control and calibration in the hardware development and selection. As the hardware becomes more fixed, we use the same tools and techniques to develop the calibration as we move to production. We can, therefore, calibrate more before the hardware is available. Overall, we require less physical testing, which results in reduced test facility costs, less project hardware, such as propulsion systems or vehicles which can be incredibly expensive. Altogether, this translates to faster project delivery and lower cost with the bonus of being able to test more in the virtual domain which increases the robustness of the calibration, reducing the project risk as it enters production. Our customers choose Ricardo to develop their calibrations as our Efficient Calibration tools will maximise the performance from the hardware and deliver a robust calibration to production. They also greatly value our open approach to programme delivery which results in our customers receiving significant insight into our process and methodology during the projects.   

Q: How will the new centre of research integrate virtual calibration and improve virtual calibration capability? What results will come from this? 

AP: The Electrified Propulsion Research Centre enables us to carry out propulsion system calibration with a combination of virtual and physical sub-system hardware together, transitioning to fully physical climatic testing in the final stages. This enables us to front load or develop the calibration quicker. It means that the projects are more robust to hardware or software delays and gives us more flexibility in how we deliver those projects. Also, it enables us to calibrate hardware specifications which may not even have been consider for example for similar applications where perhaps the battery sizes are of different capacities. Therefore, it gives full flexibility to integrate physical test assets and virtual test assets to help us to deliver the calibration. 

Q: Where do you see the real value for customers in virtual calibration in meeting urgent current or future challenges? 

AP: The value that virtual calibration must deliver is to support the current and future health of customers’ businesses by reducing the development expense and time to bring products to market. From the point their program is approved to the sale of the first vehicle, the investment and time between those two gateways must be reduced, as we are living in financially challenging times and the marketplace is very dynamic. With more demanding product complexity and legislative requirements the product development process must find gains in efficiency. Virtual calibration supports this by reducing the number of prototype phases and amount of prototype hardware that is required to deliver the subsequent phases.  Which is, through speaking to our customers, essential to their ongoing business health. It is essential to deliver their current and future business needs. 

Contact Ricardo now to find out how your organisation can benefit from Ricardo Efficient Calibration [email protected]