Frequently, our data collection and analysis expertise takes us on the road or the railroad, into the mine, or onto the amusement park ride—where we have collected vehicle component and system performance data. Our staff is particularly adept at developing instrumentation to gather data in unique situations where standard instrumentation is inappropriate.
Test programs at Exponent's Test and Engineering Center (TEC) are successful due to the integrated support of the following laboratories and their skilled personnel.
Mechanical Fabrication and Vehicle Preparation
The TEC mechanical shop facilities and equipment provide capabilities—from machining and sheet-metal work to heavy structural welding and cutting—for the fabrication of prototype components and specialized test hardware. Exponent’s TEC has several multi-bay automotive garages equipped with hydraulic frame and chassis lifts, a tire changer, engine tune-up equipment, and a full complement of tools to prepare vehicles for testing.
Vehicle Selection, Specification, and Acquisition
Exponent performs vehicle selection, specification, and acquisition reviews for clients to aid in determining the best vehicle or equipment based on specified parameters, including optimal service life. As a result, our analyses provide our clients savings on initial cost, higher resale values, greater driver/operator satisfaction, reduced downtime, reduced warranty work, and improved safety. With the increasing importance of federal, state, and local regulations, standards, and testing requirements, Exponent offers investigation, assessment, and evaluation of all technical requirements to help our clients compete efficiently in today's world market.
Video, Photography, and Photometric Analysis
Communication of the results of our analyses is vitally important. Exponent maintains state-of-the-art facilities and trained technical staff to perform detailed three-dimensional computer animation, augmented with high-resolution computer graphics, professional-quality digital video editing, and interactive multimedia presentation capability. Our work has been featured on television programs and has received nationwide acclaim.
TEC employs the latest photometric analysis software to analyze both film and video sequences acquired at the TEC. This method is especially useful in situations where traditional transducers cannot be mounted on the object of interest. Quadrant targets or object features can easily be tracked to acquire position, velocity, or acceleration data. One typical use of motion analysis is tracking dummy motion within a vehicle, where photometric analysis is most often the method of choice.
Photometric data are most useful when used in conjunction with test data acquired from traditional transducers. All of the data can be presented in conjunction with the video sequences to produce a comprehensive illustration of the test results. The final presentation file can be reviewed by stepping through the video sequence frame by frame while the test data displayed simultaneously and updated for each frame. The results can be distributed electronically for group collaboration.
Exponent's TEC offers 208 channels of high-speed data acquisition, designed and manufactured to operate in severe crash environments, with G-loads up to 110 g. TEC's crashworthy data acquisition systems can be installed in applications where space is limited, such as on a motorcycle, on an all-terrain vehicle, or inside a crash-test dummy. Acquisition frequencies and shock requirements are less demanding when conducting dynamic performance and quasi-static tests. However, the total time of data acquisition is generally longer, and systems integration can be much more complex. In addition to crash-worthy systems, TEC also offers data acquisition systems designed for use in specific test applications, such as vehicle dynamics and structural load tests. TEC maintains a variety of calibrated sensors for real-time test measurements, including accelerometers, velocity sensors, GPS, optical proximity sensors, gyroscopic sensors, load cells, displacement sensors, and many more, to meet the demands of today's automotive test market.
Automated Steering Controller
To investigate the entire crash sequence associated with onroad or offroad rollovers, we developed a test method that uses a crashworthy steering controller. This technology allows high-speed rollovers to be created with precise steering control, and without the limitations required for the safety of human drivers, such as the need for outriggers. Additionally, this equipment can be used to conduct handling maneuvers requiring precise steering, such as the NHTSA Fishhook.
TEC's post-test data processing center produces preliminary data plots within minutes of conducting a test. TEC follows and utilizes internationally recognized protocols and software to process data. Specifications such as SAE J211, J1733; FMVSS 201, 208, 214; ISO 13499, 6487; NHTSA specifications; and Crash Analysis Criteria, by The Workgroup for Processing Measured Data in Vehicle Safety, are incorporated by TEC's data processing center.
The broad range of equipment and facilities at TEC provides clients a single location with capabilities that encompass the complete range of vehicle test applications.