Acsystème, an adventure with a solar vehicle with EcoSolarBreizh

Why join Eco Solar Breizh?

First of all, the desire to actively contribute to one of our century’s challenges: lower environmental impact due to transport. Then, project originality: a patchwork of institutional and industrial partners, gathering a substantial panel of skills and as many ways to deal with the problematics. At Acsystème, we believe this aspect of the project can lead to new encounters and exchanges.

Which particular skills are you implementing?

As far as Acsystème is concerned, we can sum it up to:

  • system modelling skills for control purposes. (It’s actually the capacity to build “just-enough” models to implement algorithms and avoid expensive and large models which are difficult to validate)
  • skills with digital optimisation techniques (it will always be useful in order to determine optimum settings and calibrate the strategy to cope with complex scenarios)
  • tools to conceive algorithms (we own licenses for Matlab and Labview to launch simulation, optimise and real-time control)

Why chose to set up a consortium with other companies?

The goal of setting up a consortium is to clarify each other’s task in the project: what are they bringing and what they need… It constitutes a healthy base when you may be called upon to work with potential competitors.

What is the road map?

At the project beginning, Eco Solar Breizh’s needs in terms of calculation and simulation mainly involve electrical and mechanical sizing. Nevertheless, it is important to conceive optimisation tools for control while designing racing strategies.

What has been done by Acsystème concerns digital modelling of vehicles with an energetic perspective (production, consumption, efficiency). This step was realised by students from Supelec (Rennes campus).

The first version of simulation environment was created during summer 2010 (Matlab/Simulink) by Hana Maouche, a student who completed her 2nd year internship. Her work was taken over in 2011 by 3 students as a part of their last year internship, supervised by professor Marie-Anne Levebvre.

The next step consists in laying the mathematical foundations for the “optimum racing strategy” and identifying the several viable methods to answer this question. The work was done by a student, Jun Qian from Lyon University. In the same time, modelling tasks continued and simulation tools were adapted in order to answer specific issues coming from the design team.

Can we define a racing strategy without simulation?

Of course! The question is are you coming to win or to participate.

To win races where you need to save energy like the World Solar Challenge, it is essential to optimise, firstly vehicle design then its steering and onboard energy management. Utilisation of digital simulations seems to be crucial to achieve these goals, particularly with driving.

How can we think ahead for a race with variable parameters such as road’s topography, sunshine, wind…?

Some parameters are indeed easier to predict than others. Environmental factors which are not measured can be estimated thanks to statistic models. Moreover, it is possible to adjust a model’s settings according to observed differences, in real time or delayed, in order to improve predictions.

In all cases, it remains important to evaluate non-deterministic parameters. For instance, if we do not accurately measure wind speed, we need to know its amplitude variation range and its direction at the area where the race take place. It is the reason why a team went to Australia in 2011 in order to take some measurements. Nothing beats evaluation in the field!

Will vehicles be increasingly automated?

This is already the case, and it will be increasingly true in the upcoming years thanks to electrical vehicles. Car manufacturer are forced to innovate so as to offer marketable solutions.

Is the future eco-mobile?

To cope with the scarcity of fossil fuels, caused by massive consumption over the last two centuries, humanity will need to make radical choices to reduce its “energetic” lifestyle. Among those choices, there is definitely the “to move less” one (slower, closer, fewer). Besides, we also need to reduce the energy footprint of all forms of travel: this is eco-mobility. It is just one side of the changes that sketch out on the horizon, but they impose finding the technological solutions today for tomorrow.

Then yes, the future will necessarily be eco-mobile, and Acsystème, with its participation in Eco Solar Breizh, will certainly contribute to this future.

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