Recent advancements in three-dimensional digital terrain mapping and vehicle simulation technology present an opportunity to introduce “real-world feedback” early in the design process. Designers of suspension, braking, steering and safety systems can evaluate and optimize designs using computer simulation of a vehicle on the digital proving ground (DPG). A range of possible design behaviors can be identified and analyzed prior to expensive prototyping and testing. Even a series of specific test maneuvers may be evaluated prior to actual testing to ensure safety of the driver and prototype vehicle. As a result, the design process is more efficient and the use of the actual proving ground is more cost effective.
This paper presents an overview of the use of the digital proving ground for vehicle design evaluation. Several examples of digital proving ground tests will be discussed. Digital 3-D models of a test track facility may be available from the construction of the grounds, or they can be created with laser measurement techniques, such as LIDAR. Tire-terrain contact patch simulation techniques provide for the use of validated physics models to study 3-D vehicle behavior undergoing simulated tests for handling, ride, braking compliance or other maneuvers.