Fundamentals of Vehicle Dynamics     New!


I.D.# C1620Printable Description
Duration: 3 Days
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The design of a car or truck always involves a conflict of goals. The suspension system that is optimized for ride is not always the best for handling. The powertrain that gives best acceleration is not likely to be the most fuel-efficient. Through this course, you will develop an understanding of the motor vehicle as a system. By increasing your knowledge of the primary mechanics for all modes of performance, you will better appreciate how to optimize the overall vehicle -- allowing you to predict performance of a given design early in the design process, identify the conflicts in designing for optimal performance in different modes, and set directions for design changes that will improve performance of a given mode.

This three-day course by best-selling author Thomas D. Gillespie provides a broad overview of vehicle performance, including engineering analyses and formulas that will allow you to calculate useful performance metrics. The goal of this course is to provide you with the tools to predict the performance of a car or truck in accelerating/braking, ride, and handling/rollover. In the process, you’ll come to understand the basic mechanisms and engineering principles that govern steering and suspension system design, as well as develop familiarity with the terminology.

Learning Objectives
By participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Determine how wheel loads on a vehicle relate to center of gravity location loading, aerodynamic forces, road grade, trailer towing forces, and acceleration, braking and cornering.
  • Describe how the powertrain and brake systems work to produce longitudinal acceleration and deceleration, and how these are influenced by powertrain type and traction limits
  • Explain the basic mechanics of road load resistance forces arising from aerodynamics and tire 2.rolling resistance.
  • Learn the basics of ride and how to design a vehicle and tune suspensions for good ride.
  • Examine the physics of turning to understand low speed maneuverability and the mechanics of high speed cornering quantified by the understeer gradient.
  • Explain the tire, suspension and steering system properties that account for understeer.
  • Review the principle types of suspensions, their attributes and how each functions.
  • Describe the primary architectural features of a steering system.
  • Explain the primary mechanisms involved in the vehicle rollover process.

Who Should Attend
The course will be beneficial to anyone interested in automotive performance, including professional engineers engineer who need to understand the vehicle as a system, who have technical interest in vehicle performance, or who are involved in the design and development of automotive vehicles. The course can also be valuable to technologists working to achieve a high level of vehicle performance, managers responsible for vehicle design, development and testing and anyone involved in the manufacture of cars or trucks, OEM or after-market components, design and construction of specialty vehicles, racing, or vehicle safety and accident analysis/reconstruction.

While not required, potential attendees should have an undergraduate engineering degree or a strong technical background. As a minimum, a basic knowledge of college algebra, college physics, and a familiarity with vehicle brake and suspension systems is required.

Topical Outline

  • Introduction
    • The coordinate systems used to describe vehicle behavior
    • Calculating wheel loads based on vehicle load, acceleration, road grades, aerodynamics and trailer towing forces
  • Acceleration
    • Typical engine performance characteristics
    • Functional model of the drive train
    • Mapping the tractive force as a function of speed and gear
    • Calculating tractive force at drive wheels for traction-limited performance
    • Modeling traction limits on solid axles due to lateral load transfer
  • Braking
    • Basic equations for calculating deceleration and stopping distance
    • Advantages and disadvantages of disc and drum brakes
    • Overview of global braking regulations
    • A process for designing and proportioning a brake system for optimal performance
    • Anti-lock brake (ABS) systems
    • A means for evaluating the efficiency of the brake system under diverse conditions
  • Aerodynamics
    • The mechanics of air flow over the car
    • Governing equations for forces and moments acting on the vehicle and typical values
    • Practical consequences of aerodynamics acting on the car
  • Rolling Resistance
    • The sources of tire rolling resistance and sensitivity to operating conditions
    • Typical values of rolling resistance
    • Overview of the primary sources of energy losses on the vehicle affecting fuel consumption
  • Ride Performance
    • The basic mechanisms responsible for ride excitation
    • The rigid-body ride models and metrics
    • Suspension design factors influencing ride
    • Measurement and evaluation of ride
  • Basics of Handling
    • Low speed turning, off-tracking and maneuverability
    • Ackerman steering and relationship to turning behavior
    • The cornering properties of the tires in high speed turning
    • Steer angle relationship to radius of turn and lateral acceleration
    • The concept of understeer gradient
    • Understeer gradient relationship to the yaw rate and lateral acceleration gains
    • Critical speed, characteristic speed, sideslip angle, and static margin
  • Suspension Effects on Handling
    • Influences on handling arising from roll moment distribution, camber change, roll steer, lateral force compliance steer, aligning moment and steering compliance
    • Constant radius and constant speed methods for measurement of understeer gradient
  • Suspension Design and Analysis
    • Performance requirements for suspensions
    • The principle types of suspensions and how each functions
    • Solid axle suspensions
    • Independent suspension types
    • The roll center concept and roll center influence on vehicle behavior
    • The mechanics of anti-dive and anti-squat
  • Steering Systems
    • The typical architecture of the gearbox and rack and pinion steering systems
    • The geometry of the steering linkages acting in combination with the suspension
    • Different types of steering geometry errors affecting drift, wander, pulls and roll steer
    • Geometry of the steering axis at the road wheels relating to caster, kingpin inclination, and offset at the ground
    • Forces and moments acting on tires
    • Influence of front wheel drive on steering behavior
    • The advantages of four-wheel steer systems
  • Rollover
    • The mechanics of the rollover process
    • Rollover metrics – static stability factor, tilt table ratio
    • The principles for rollover mitigation by electronic stability and roll stability controls
    • Rollover test procedures -- the Fishhook, FMVSS 126 and UN/EXE 13 regulations

Instructor(s): Dr. Thomas D. Gillespie
Dr. Tom Gillespie began his career in the automotive field at the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute developing standards for measuring tire-road friction properties. Following that he was called into the military service becoming a Project Officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers where he obtained heavy equipment experience directing engineering and service tests on new military mobile construction equipment. He later joined Ford Motor Company Heavy Truck Division where he was as a group leader in development testing of new heavy truck products which also involved him with the development of analytical methods and computer programs for predicting truck braking, handling, and ride performance.

From Ford he went to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), where his research on vehicle dynamics continued, developing and validating truck simulation software. At UMTRI he directed research for the World Bank on measurement and characterization of road roughness culminating in conduct of the International Road Roughness Experiment in Brazil from which the International Roughness Index (IRI) was developed and adopted as the world-wide standard for characterizing road roughness.

Dr. Gillespie has published more than 100 papers related to the dynamics of motor vehicles, and his textbook, Fundamentals of Vehicle Dynamics, is an SAE best-seller. He is also recipient of SAE’s L. Ray Buckendale Award, the Forest R. McFarland Award, and is an SAE Fellow. Among his other honors is the Soichiro Honda Gold Medal awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, selection as the first William Milliken Invited Lecture by ASME and the 2014 John Orr Memorial Lecturer by the South Africa Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Dr. Gillespie has developed an international reputation for lecturing on vehicle dynamics and automotive engineering at universities, OEMs and supplier companies. He taught machine design, vehicle design, and automotive engineering at the University of Michigan. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the states of Pennsylvania and Wyoming. He has served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Reagan White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and is a member of the Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. He retired from the University of Michigan as a Research Professor Emeritus and now serves as a Director at the Mechanical Simulation Corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Fees: $1790.00 ; SAE Members: $1432.00 - $1611.00

2.0 CEUs
You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

For additional information, contact SAE Customer Service at 1-877-606-7323 (724/776-4970 outside the U.S. and Canada) or at