Daniel Nolan meets the world’s best heavy vehicle dynamics engineers

In May 2016 Advantia sent PBS Engineer Daniel Nolan to the United States to undertake the world’s most renowned course on heavy vehicle dynamics and we asked Daniel a couple of questions about his experiences.

What is the Dynamics of Heavy Duty Trucks course?

Dynamics of Heavy Duty Trucks is a 4-day course about the fundamental concepts of heavy vehicle dynamics. It was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan and run by a group of experts in heavy vehicle dynamics who have been publishing on the subject for decades. The course covered about a dozen different topics related to heavy vehicle dynamics including tyres, brakes, suspensions, high-speed and low-speed offtracking, ride behaviour, rollover, and more.

Why did you attend the course?

I heard about the course from our Managing Director, Rob Di Cristoforo. He suggested it would be worthwhile attending, since a lot of my work is simulating the dynamic behaviour of heavy vehicles.

What was the most interesting thing you learnt?

There were 28 one-hour lectures, so there was a lot of content. I tried to jot down the most interesting point from each lecture. There were a couple of memorable points:

  • The probability that a vehicle will roll over is strongly correlated with its roll stability. The lecturer (Chris Winkler) referred to this as a “beautiful relationship” (see graph). As the vehicle’s stability worsens, the chance of rollover rapidly increases, and vice versa.
  • To ensure drivers do not experience unpleasant ride, there are certain frequencies that must be avoided at the driver level. For instance, the head and abdomen resonate at 5 Hz.

What were the highlights?

There were a few highlights:

  • I was able to meet with all of the course lecturers including Paul Fancher, Chris Winkler and Tom Gillespie. Some of them have been publishing papers and developing vehicle dynamics models since the 1970s. Tom Gillespie, for instance, helped create TruckSim, which we use daily to conduct our PBS assessments and other jobs that require simulation of vehicle dynamics.
  • As a group, we did a guided tour of Michigan Stadium which is the second largest sport stadium in the world (capacity: 107,601). We were allowed to walk on the grass and walk through the locker rooms. What surprised me was that they fill the stadium on a regular basis, and it’s primarily used for college football games.
  • After the course I was able to spend some time with the developers of TruckSim and the team allowed me to use their driving simulator which, as you will see, is quite realistic.