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Early analytical studies of the dynamic behavior of motor vehicles required
an extensive use of simplifying assumptions to permit useful solutions
of the governing equations based on linear theory or by means of analog
Since the early 1960’s, rapid developments in digital computer technology
have shifted the analytical challenge from the selection of simplifying
assumptions to the definition of detailed and accurate equations and
solution logic for realistic digital simulations.
In highway safety applications, useful computer simulations of vehicle
dynamics must clearly include all of the important non‐linearities and be
capable of dealing with abrupt discontinuities. At Calspan, in Bill Milliken’s
Full Scale Division, our initial vehicle simulation development for highway
safety studies (supported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA))
was a three‐dimensional (3‐D) simulation of vehicle responses to driver
control inputs during interactions with highway and roadside geometrics and
in collision contacts with roadside obstacles and structures.
A related small Calspan spin‐off project, in which the author worked closely
with Mr. Milliken, was the “spiral jump” stunt of James Bond notoriety
(presented herein because of the Milliken connection) which served as an
attention‐getting means of demonstrating the 3‐D generality and validation of
our vehicle dynamics simulation and enhancing Calspan’s competitive
position for future research contracts.
Note that the performance of this project at Calspan would have been highly
unlikely without the full support and influence of Mr. Milliken in persuading the
upper levels of Calspan management. There clearly were concerns about liability.
It is believed that Bill saw the “spiral jump” as an interesting and “fun” vehicle
dynamics project. Subsequent research projects within the Full Scale Division
of Calspan included digital accident reconstruction programs based on both
two‐dimensional (2‐D) and 3‐D simulations of vehicle dynamics in response
to car‐to‐car collisions.
Presentation available in Download pdf file