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Road Vehicle Dynamics Sample Course Outline

Race Car Vehicle Dynamics and the companion Race Car Vehicle Dynamics: Problems, Answers and Experiments are used as textbooks in several university courses on vehicle dynamics. One such course is taught by MRA Associate Edward Kasprzak at the University at Buffalo (UB). The UB "Road Vehicle Dynamics" course forms the basis for the information on this page. The day-by-day course outline listed below comes directly from this course as taught in Spring 2003.

Additionally, the book Chassis Design: Principles and Analysis is ideal for a second, more advanced course on vehicle dynamics and suspension design.

Homework Assignments

An excellent source of homework problems is Race Car Vehicle Dynamics: Problems, Answers and Experiments, published in May 2003. It contains approximately 300 pages of problems, solutions and experiments, some of which were developed in this course.

RCVD Program Suite

The RCVD Program Suite, originally developed for use in this course, has been enhanced and included in Race Car Vehicle Dynamics: Problems, Answers and Experiments. Follow this link to the RCVD Program Suite to learn more.

Course Outline

This course outline is based on the Spring 2003 edition of MAE 454/554 "Road Vehicle Dynamics" at at the University at Buffalo. The class met twice a week and each class was 80 minutes in duration.

Day 1

Review Policies and Syllabus
History of the Road Vehicle Dynamics course at UB
Lateral and Longitudinal Accelerations
Derivation of Centripetal Acceleration Formula
The g-g Diagram for Race Cars and Passenger Cars

Day 2

Axis Systems
The Need for Multiple Axis Systems
Earth-Fixed, Body (Vehicle) Fixed, Aero, Wheel Center and Ground Axis Systems
Terms and Symbols: Motion Variables, Forces, Moments
The Euler Angle Transformation Matrix

Day 3

Tires I
The Tire Axis System Revisited
Tires as Force/Moment Generators
Definitions of Slip Angle, Inclination Angle
Factors Affecting Tire Force and Moment Generation
Tire Construction
The Pressure/Temperature Relationship

Day 4

Tires II
The Tire as a Spring
Pressure Distribution in the Footprint
Lateral Force Generation
The Tread Button Cycle
Typical Lateral Force Curves
Aligning Torque

Day 5

Tires III
Lateral Force (continued)
Induced Drag
Aligning Torque
Camber Thrust
Tractive and Braking Forces
The Friction Ellipse

Day 6

Tires IV
Why We Need Tire Data
Sources of Tire Data
Tire Testing Difficulties
Tire Models
Nondimensional Tire Theory

Day 7

Steady-State Cornering I
Introduction to the Bicycle Model
Front and Rear Slip Angles as a Function of Vehicle Motions
Low-Speed Cornering--Ackermann Steer Angle

Day 8

Steady-State Cornering II
Steady-State Cornering with Centrifugal Force
Determining Steer and Sideslip Angles for Steady-State Cornering
Requirement for a Neutral Steer Vehicle
Oversteer and Understeer Defined

Day 9

Steady-State Cornering III
Clarification of OS, US, NS
Video on Tires, Oversteer, Understeer
Review for Exam

Day 10

Exam #1

Day 11

Simulation I
Return Exam
The RVD Speedway--6 competing teams

Day 12

Simulation II
Optimal Solution for the RVD Speedway
Bicycle Model Equations of Motion
Comments on Numerical Integration

Day 13

Simulation III
Equations of Motion (revisited)
Stability and Control Derivatives
Yaw Damping, Static Directional Stability
Graduate Student Project Assigned

Day 14

Steady-State Stability and Control
Steady-State Responses
The Stability Factor
Ackermann Relationship to Yaw Damping
Critical Speed, Characteristic Speed and Tangent Speed

Day 15

Steady-State Stability and Control II
Neutral Steer Point, Static Margin
Understeer Gradient, Steering Sensitivity
Equilibrium, Trim, Stability

Day 16

Automobile Safety and Crash Dynamics
Motorsports as a Laboratory
Three Impacts in a Collision
Crash Severity: Peak Acceleration and Change in Velocity
Redirecting versus Absorbing Barriers

Day 17

Solution of Second-Order Differential Equations
Natural Frequency, Damping Ratio
Response Metrics
Relationship to the Bicycle Model
Brief Discussion of Dampers (Shock Absorbers)

Day 18

Force-Moment Analysis I
Constrained Testing
Aircraft Testing in Wind Tunnels
Attempts at Constrained Testing of Automobiles
Constrained Testing of Automobiles via Mathematical Analysis/Computer Program
The CN-AY Diagram
Stability Index

Day 19

Force-Moment Analysis II
Construction of the CN-AY Diagram
Interpreting Diagram Boundaries
Interpretation of Internal Diagram Lines
Discussion of Stability Index
Transients on the CN-AY Diagram

Day 20

Review for Exam #2
Review--no new material

Day 21

Exam #2

Day 22

Four-Wheeled Models I
Exam #2 Returned
Calculation of Static Wheel Loads
Diagonal Weight
Lateral Load Transfer

Day 23

Four-Wheeled Models II
Longitudinal Load Transfer, Crests and Dips
Load Transfer and Tire Load Sensitivity
Lateral Load Transfer Distribution
Roll Stiffness, Roll Gradient
The Role of an Anti-Roll Bar

Day 24

Four-Wheeled Models III
More on Anti-Roll Bars
Suspension Roll Centers
Lateral Load Transfer Equations with Roll Centers and Roll Stiffness
Oversteer/Understeer Effect of Lateral Load Transfer Distribution

Day 25

Four-Wheeled Models IV
Front View and Side View Instant Centers
Anti-Dive, Anti-Squat, Anti-Lift
Axle and Independent Suspensions

Day 26

Race Car Design, Setup and Tuning
Passenger Cars: Goals and Characteristics
Race Cars: Goals and Characteristics
Three "Magic Numbers"
General Principles for Racecar Tuning
Design Phase Decisions, Paddock/Garage Adjustments

Day 27

Guest Lecture
Guest Lecture by Doug Milliken
"Data for Vehicle Dynamics Modeling"

Day 28

Last Class
Race Car Pitstop and On-Track Adjustments
Course Evaluations


Final Exam
3 Hours, cumulative, during exam week

University at Buffalo, State University 
	    of New York

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