Over the years since the founding of Mechanical Simulation in 1996, CarSim has become the most widely used vehicle dynamics simulation software in the automotive industry. With 1000+ users of CarSim and its related products BikeSim and TruckSim, the software is being applied for many applications.

This page has some success stories, sorted for industrial applications, universities, and competition.

Industrial Applications

Most applications are considered proprietary by the companies, but some have been reported in technical papers and presentations.

General Motors: TruckSim Used for Braking and Handling Development

Tracking behavior during braking is less acceptable when the load on a truck is not centered. TruckSim was used to study offset loads and provide guidelines to body builders, resulting in trucks with high customer satisfaction. It also helped to define new test procedures feeding into braking and handling development for future products.

William Spurr, General Motors Corporation

Toyota: The World's Largest Driving Simulator Uses CarSim

Considered the largest of its kind in the world, Toyota Motor Corporation’s new world-class driving simulator uses an actual vehicle inside a 23-foot diameter dome, with a 360 degree, concave video screen simulating a realistic driving environment. In addition to testing suspension, braking and other vehicle systems, it will measure driver behavior under a range of circumstances. CarSim Real Time (RT) is used to provide all the critical vehicle dynamics simulation for the system.

Reuters News article, January 2008.

General Motors: Accelerated Testing

As chassis controls systems (e.g., ABS, ESC, Traction Control, etc.) become standard for most consumer vehicles, the OEM's must apply stringent validation testing for the various combinations of controllers, powertrain options, and tires. This work is challenged by shrinking testing resources and the need for carefully controlling the test environment. Simulation with VehSim (a customized version of CarSim used at GM prior to 2008) has integrated several ways: reducing risk by filling in the gaps of the validation test matrices; reducing development time (replacing proving-ground tests with HIL simulation, and running 24 hrs/day as needed); and providing a more repeatable environment for sensitivity and statistical studies.

VehSim/CarSim is used for HIL testing of brake systems (e.g., braking-in-a-turn, ABS stop on split-mu), using the actual control hardware.

As another example, VehSim/CarSim is used to reproduce the new FMVSS-126 test series for ESC controllers, and determine the sensitivity of the results to variations in vehicle and tire properties. VehSim/CarSim is also used for the Fishhook rollover test sequences.

Overall, HIL simulation is very compatible to the vehicle development process, and simulation allows the company to make much better use of testing resources, and to better understand test variability.

Ric Mousseau, Bryan Miller, Song Don, and Tom Kinger
General Motors Vehicle Dynamics Control Lab
Presented October 26, 2007 at the Automotive Testing Expo (North America)

General Motors: CarSim Used to Design Handling Road

[The] “… simulation tool was the vehicle dynamics analysis package VehSim (the General Motors specific version of CarSim from Mechanical Simulation Corp.). … The exact geometry of the MRC [Milford Road Course] was defined and modifications easily made as the design progressed.”

“The MRC required… extensive use of math data and comprehensive computer simulation to assure a high level of confidence the circuit will be useful for engineering and is pleasant to drive.”

Joseph P. Ryan, Michael W. Neal, James W. Mero, Frank J. Taverna
“Design of the Milford Road Course”, SAE 2005-01-0385

ADVICS: Animating ESC Test Result with CarSim

Thank you for all the help you offered me while learning how to animate ESC maneuvers in CarSim.  The customer support I have received from Mechanical Simulation has been top notch compared to any other company I have contacted since I started using your software.  I have been successfully animating maneuvers with the latest version of csv_to_erd.exe.  That tool is extremely helpful; it has saved me a lot of time, especially through the trial and error of getting the vehicle to line up right by offsetting the yaw.

Everyone at ADVICS has found it helpful and interesting to watch maneuvers that they have driven, especially laps around our handling course at our Winter Test facility. 

Once again thank you for all of your help and support during this project of mine.

Steve Reini, ADVICS North America, Inc

Delphi develops sensor diagnostic system using CarSim

[Using CarSim] “It was possible to quickly check for performance issues and consider needed corrections or enhancements without incurring the time and cost burden associated with in-vehicle testing.”

MATLAB/Simulink was used to assemble the CarSim vehicle model, a brake system modeled in AMESim, and an ECU modeled in Simulink. This arrangement enabled the study of control algorithms and diagnostics with the vehicle in the loop. Simulation of limit handling maneuvers prevented unnecessary risk to test drivers and prototype vehicles. It provided a platform for algorithm and diagnostic development, robustness analysis, system safety analysis, and performance verification.

Siddharth D’Silva, Padma Sundaram and Joseph G. D’Ambrosio, Delphi
SAE paper 2006-01-1058

Eaton Tests Yaw-Control with CarSim

A proposed driveline system is based on nominal front- wheel-drive operation with on-demand transfer of torque to the rear. The torque biasing components of the system are an electronically controlled center coupler and a rear electronically controlled limited slip differential. A yaw control methodology utilizing the biasing devices is proposed. Finally, co-simulation results with Matlab/Simulink and CarSim show the effectiveness of the torque biasing system in achieving yaw stability control.

from SAE paper 2006-01-1963

Here are some testimonials for using CarSim in the university setting.

Simulation of road defects using CarSim to incorporate safety measures

This paper uses CarSim to simulate vehicle behavior on typical curved roads with various levels of pavement conditions.  Pavement condition has been shown to cause 10-50% of accidents, based on individual country maintenance programs.  Poor maintenance results in reduced tyre-pavement frictional forces due to pavement polishing, water collection, and vertical and horizontal pothole forces.

CarSim calculated safe vehicle speeds for various road curvatures and frictional conditions.  Examples using CarSim predicted the vehicle path deviation from the center of the road for road.  Formulas can then be derived to help determine recommended maintenance based on the safe speed required to keep a vehicle from running off the road on any specific curve.  Since CarSim data for steering and suspension kinematics and compliance can be easily measured, accurate predictions can be made without the need for details of the linkages and gears.

F. D’Amico, Roma Tre University

University of Michigan
University of Michigan used a CarSim driving simulator to develop a driver steering model. To read the article, click here.

The Competitive Advantage

Here are some testimonials for using CarSim for competitions in racing and the DARPA challenge.

Formula SAE Team: Michigan

The Michigan MRacing team has been using CarSim and SuspensionSim as part of its vehicle dynamics and suspension design process for as long as I've been around (2005). At first, we used open-loop CarSim models to validate our in-house vehicle models and to correlate data acquired on track. After becoming more comfortable with the software, we began using the closed-loop driver to do simple iterative laptime simulation, sweeping parameters using coupled MATLAB/Simulink optimization routines. We've also started adding our own modifications to the basic CarSim dynamics model to do proof-of-concept work for more advanced projects, such as active brake distribution and interconnected suspension, but this work is only in the beginning stages.

Since its inception on the team, CarSim has been the go-to program for all of the basic to high intermediate vehicle dynamics work that we do. It's easy to learn, easy to modify, and easy to troubleshoot in 99% of cases. Where some of your competitors' packages would require months to really get out something valuable, I can train a new member and have him contributing something meaningful in a week or 10 days. In the fast-paced and low-complexity world of FSAE, I haven't found anything that comes close to CarSim in terms of utility, scope, and cost-effectiveness.

We began using SuspensionSim in the summer of 2006. Since then, we've used it exclusively for all our kinematic design and analysis (excluding internal models). Compared to popular alternatives, it's just so easy to use that it blows everything else out of the water. What it lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in speed. I can do a complete kinematic design with linear compliance modeling in 7-8 hours. I can teach someone how to use the program in 45 minutes! In FSAE, it's a no-brainer to use a fast and accurate tool like SuspensionSim.

Ryan Kraft
Technical Director, 2008-2009
MRacing Formula SAE

Formula SAE Team: Windsor

Using CarSim University of Windsor's Formula SAE team made major changes during the design phase that translated directly into on-track performance. CarSim proved that simulation can markedly improve the overall performance of the finished product by increasing the efficiency of the design phase. Using data collected from on-board the vehicle, performance testing of the complete vehicle showed the CarSim results and the physical results were extremely close. This verified the accuracy of the simulations as well as verifying their effectiveness as a design tool for future Windsor Formula SAE teams. CarSim was an asset during all phases of the project, as well as garnering additional points during the design judging portion of the competition. "As the competition in the Formula SAE category increases, we believe that the incorporation of CarSim into the design phase of the project is now a requirement to produce a competitive vehicle within the given time restrictions."

Robert Peters
Team Captain 2007-2008
University of Windsor Formula SAE

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing

Team MatherMotorsport (www.TeamMatherMotorsport.com) has used CarSim in its Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing to help tune their SpecMiata racecar at the tracks. "I was having some issues with asymmetric handling of the car at Mid-Ohio" said Phil Mather, driver of the #06 SpecMiata. "After making some changes to the simulated racecar in CarSim, I figured out what adjustments I needed to make to the real racecar. I reduced my lap times by over 0.7 seconds and finished three positions higher than where I qualified."

Phil Mather
Driver of the #06 SpecMiata
(Also tech support at Mechanical Simulation)

Carnegie Mellon wins DARPA Challenge using CarSim

Vehicles which can drive by themselves gathered for the 2007 DARPA Challenge. Eighty-nine teams took to the field but the team from Carnegie Mellon University took home the bacon after the team’s entry upstaged all entries. The Tartan Racing Team of the aforementioned university went into the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California as one of the hopefuls and went home as the victors.

The DARPA Urban Challenge is organized and sponsored by the United States Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. Vehicles entered into the competition should have the ability to navigate busy city streets without any interference or control from humans. They should rely on sensors and software used by different teams.

In the finals, eleven teams met for the final battle and one of them is the eventual winner which is called the “Boss” - a Chevy Tahoe. The vehicles are asked to park, and merge into moving traffic. They should be able to make decisions based on the reading of their sensors. The vehicles navigated through a 60-mile urban course and waiting at the finish line is one year worth of bragging rights and a $2 million-filled purse.

The key to the Boss’ victory is CarSim, a vehicle dynamics simulation software developed by Mechanical Simulation and used by Tartan Racing Team of Carnegie. Said software uses sensors to predict the behavior of vehicles regarding various road conditions. With that in place, the vehicle can safely navigate urban streets, stop on red lights, merge into traffic, and pass intersections safely. These are attributes that the US military is looking for in a vehicle which can be used on theaters across the world especially on urban grounds.

CarSim used for Bonneville Race Car

In late 2006 I was asked by Ford Motor Company to lead the engineering of a fuel cell powered, Bonneville Land Speed Race Vehicle. The project was to be a Ford Fusion powered by an 800 horsepower electric motor and a fuel cell array capable of producing over 430 kilowatts (580hp). The “Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999” car achieved a recorded top speed of 207.297mph on 8-15-07.

I used CarSim during the early engineering phase to understand the effect of mass, CG location, inertia, suspension properties, and aero forces on stability and top speed. The vehicle package was very difficult, with limited space for the large fuel cell array (5ft x 5ft), motor and 120 gallon ice water cooling system. I was able to get fast results before the design was started  We used them to optimize the vehicle architecture, package, and suspension geometry during the design process. This enabled us to make important adjustments in our design resulting in a very safe, controllable vehicle at high speed on the salt. This gave our driver the confidence he needed to do the job.

What an awesome tool!!......It will always be part of my engineering toolbox.

Rick Darling – Consultant – RD Automotive Engineering, Inc

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