MTU Uses Wheel Force Transducer for Baja Development

Michigan Scientific (MSC) is proud to sponsor many teams and organizations, from local high schools to large universities. MSC recently helped the Michigan Technological University (MTU) Blizzard Baja Enterprise team with acquiring wheel force and moment data using Wheel Force Transducers (WFT). The Baja SAE team is a student-lead organization of about thirty students who work throughout the year to design, build, and test a single-seat off-road vehicle to compete in national competitions. The students use their engineering and manufacturing skills to maximize the efficiency of the vehicle for competition. This week, the MTU team heads down to Cookeville, Tennessee to join 100 other university teams from around the world for a highly competitive event.

Competition Overview

When students are not working on their regular course work, Baja SAE team members spend hours every week working on the vehicle performance. A redesigned vehicle is used each year for entrance into the national Baja SAE events. During these events, the vehicle first has to pass a technical inspection in which there is a very extensive and strict set of rules that the team must follow. The vehicle then moves onto a dynamic survival test, where each dynamic event is designed to put the maximum forces on the vehicle drivetrain, frame, and suspension. These dynamic events include testing the acceleration, maneuverability, sled pull, suspension test course, and an endurance race, which is a multi-hour race with all teams out on the track.

Using Wheel Force Transducers for Vehicle Development

Baja-Recruitment-Sizzle-_3In order to gain an advantage with their vehicle design, the team used Michigan Scientific Wheel Force Transducers to gather data that reflects the situations that the car experiences during the dynamic events. The WFT gave the team an advantage because they were able to design components of the vehicle to be as light as possible while still being able to survive worst-case situations. MTU Blizzard Baja Team representative, David Kloiber gave some insight as to how crucial this data was for the team, “Many other teams are forced to guess their loading values, while we were able to perform FEA with test values that we know are right.”

This data proved vital as the team focused on reducing the weight of the rim and hub design. The students working on designing new carbon fiber rims used the Wheel Force Transducer data in advanced composites FEA to determine the optimal number of layers and geometry that reduces weight while also surviving the race. The team was able to shed 1.5 pounds on each rim! The hub re-design used the actual loads recorded by the WFT, again allowing the team to optimize the geometries, increasing strength and decreasing weight of each hub.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

“Having the support of MSC has given us a huge competitive advantage,” Kloiber explains. While the team mainly focused on the rim and hub design this year, the data that the team gathered has the potential to influence every single component of the car. Kloiber hopes that the team will be able to gather more data from before and after change implementations to quantify the success of projects, giving the team confirmation that the car is improving.