Our podcast series continues with a focus on the challenges of designing Electric, Connected and Autonomous cars of the future in Part 2 of our Transportation and Mobility (T&M) series. Are you ready for the future of driving?
In this episode, SIMULIA Director of Transportation and Mobility Strategic Initiatives, Fabien Letailleur explains the intricacies and details of what must be considered when designing Electric, Connected & Autonomous Vehicles.
It took about 100 years to have the cars we have on the road now. Now you take a new architecture, you need to reach that same maturity in the next 5 to10 years – Fabien Letailleur
Enjoy the podcast with Fabien Letailluer.
3D Design and Engineering
Electric, Connected & Autonomous Vehicles
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Matthew Hall 0:09 Hello, everyone, welcome to the Dassault Systèmes podcast, “3D Design and Engineering.” Driverless, connected cars are ushering in a new era of travel that is efficient, affordable, clean and green. Experts predict the systems will transform travel in the years to come and shape the future of mobility, smart cities and interactive communities. Bringing this new generation of cars onto the road requires new vehicle innovators and OEM leaders alike to rethink the way we experience their products and the way they engineer them. In this series here on our podcast will be focusing on the latest trends, challenges and solutions that are going on right now in the Transportation and Mobility industry impacting the development of Electric, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. I’m your host, Matthew Hall and joining us today I have with me my colleague, Fabien Letailleur. He’s the Director of Transportation and Mobility Strategic Initiatives in the SIMULIA brand at the Dassault Systèmes. Fabien is based in Rhode Island in the United States and has been working on Transportation and Mobility topics for over a decade. Thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to join me on this podcast today, Fabien.
Fabien Letailleur 1:21 Yeah, pleasure to be with you, Matt.
Matthew Hall 1:22 All right, let’s dive right in and get started. So the first question I have for you, Fabien is, what are some of the latest trends that are happening in the industry as it relates to the current development thoughts and process around Electric Vehicles or otherwise known as EVs?
Fabien Letailleur 1:38 Sure. So I think the key word here in terms of when we talk about trends is really sustainability. And that’s we mostly know that word when it comes to environment, right? So, how do we make our environment more sustainable? And we know that moving from gasoline cars to Electric Vehicles is one of the solutions that’s been evaluated and that’s being implemented. And this is really being driven by I would say, two main drivers. The one is regulations, of course. So there are more and more regulations put in place by governments cities, to restrict the usage of gasoline engines. And that’s been kind of accelerated more recently with the whole “Dieselgate” problem that we’ve had. And then, of course, the public opinion, too. More and more people think we should do more for the environment and see as well, the Electric Vehicles as a way to do that. And of course, when consumers are wanting something more and more then businesses respond to address that.
And that brings me to the second type of sustainability that we see the need for companies to have sustainability in their business. So if companies ant to survive and still grow, they kind of need to address that shift. And that’s why not only we see established OEM’s addressing that trend of electric vehicles, you have more and more new electric cars within the very well known brands. But we also see a lot of new startups appearing on the market with only Electric Vehicles to offer specifically.
And we also see – so that drives investment in R&D to shift from internal combustion engine to electric powertrain and that is done, mainly to figure out how to increase the range of those cars and to decrease the charging time. Those are really the two hurdles right now when it comes to public adoption. And the last point I’ll make is in terms of new trends is how China is really a new epicenter of electric cars, and according so if you look at the International Energy Agency, for example, they…in 2017 they were evaluating 40% of all of the electric vehicles in the world to be to be sold in China.
Matthew Hall 4:08 Wow. So across all those industry regulations, the international market and everything, how does the industry need to rethink their overall design experience for this for the EV’s?
Fabien Letailleur 4:19 When we think about design experience, we’re looking at how those companies design their car: what do they need to do to design their cars. The engineering maturity that was reached by internal combustion engine cars need now to be reached by these new type of architectures like Electric Vehicles or Autonomous Vehicles, but in a much shorter time. You know, it took about 100 years to have the cars we have on the road now. Now you take a new architecture, you need to reach that same maturity in the next, you know, 5, 10 years, depending on your ambition.
Matthew Hall 4:52 A lot faster than 100 years!
Fabien Letailleur 4:53 A lot faster than 100 years. Yeah, if you want to achieve that sustainability, right. So indeed, that drives all those companies to kind of rethink the way they need to design their cars. And these cars are more complex, you have a lot of electronics, a lot of software in there. And all those subsystems, making a car are increasingly more interconnected. And so to account for that, for those two characteristics of those new architectures, you basically need to have design tools that can take that into account – that complexity and that interconnection of the subsystem. So for example, multi model-based systems engineering tools, but also the ability to account for all the different physics that are happening and all the different things that are happening within the car. So you need those tools to be also able to handle multi-physics problems. And the last piece is that when you design those cars, you need tools that can account for how much more connected and social the world we live in is, compared what it was maybe even 10 or 20 years ago. With, you know, we all know that we have teams distributed worldwide, IT resources distributed worldwide. And this is where something like cloud, for example, is emerging very strongly in the way those companies design their cars.
Matthew Hall 6:18 I’ve also heard this expression “mobility-as-a-service.” So, I perceive a current trend is car buying culture shifting from individually owned vehicles to fleet vehicles. And I’m wondering: how will this change the overall industry solution development and the strategy methodology?
Fabien Letailleur 6:34 Right, exactly. So you’re right. We see a shift from owning a car to really just wanting a service to go from A to B. And especially with the new generations, you can see that with ride sharing services like Lyft, and Uber; you can see that as well, with all the bikes, the bike share programs that cities put in place, the e-scooter – electric scooters – more in more, for better or worse. Here in Providence, Rhode Island, we have both now we have all those red electric bikes everywhere. So of course, traditional OEM car companies have picked up on that trend, right. And so this is where you see investments being made in that space. I have a few examples in mind, you know, in 2017, Ford and Lyft signed a partnership. And then more recently, this year, there’s two things that have happened. One, pretty significant Daimler and BMW have created a $1.1 billion partnership for that space of mobility, which is not insignificant for Dymler and BMW to create that kind of partnership, right. And usually, they’re pretty competitive, and maybe more anecdotal, but still kind of fun, is BMW has put out an electric scooter themselves.
Matthew Hall 7:52 Really?
Fabien Letailleur 7:53 Yeah, with a partnership with a company called Micro.
And so of course, when we look at autonomous mobility, autonomous cars is something that’s really going to accelerate that trend. And it’s not any more a matter of IF autonomous cars are going to happen, but more WHEN – and I know that sounds like something everybody says, but it’s really true. Some say it will be in five years, some say in 50. But the fact of the matter is another reason for traditional OEM’s to invest in mobility-as-a-service because what autonomous mobility is going to do is to kind of commoditize, cars. If you think about where the value will come from, it’s not going to come from the from selling cars, it’s going to come from selling a service that is mobility. That’s another reason for all those traditional OEM’s to invest in that layer of mobility versus cars.
And the impact that has also is there’s a shift in what consumers are going to value in a vehicle. So you know, what a good vehicle will be is not necessarily something that will be durable, because you don’t own it anymore, but maybe more something like with with a nice interior design; it’s not going to be something that’s safe anymore, because the promise of autonomous mobility is this to remove crashes altogether. So therefore, it’s more about the experience you’ll have as a passenger.
Matthew Hall 9:12 Oh, interesting. Okay. Well, I’ll shift gears a little bit here to pun a phrase… So what unique simulation challenges and solutions do we have for the developmental future of EV’s, beyond crash testing and simulations?
Fabien Letailleur 9:27 Great question. So it is actually the focus of what my team has been doing for the past, I would say two years, we’re looking at those new markets, like Electric Vehicles, like Autonomous Vehicles and try to figure out what are the simulation methods we can offer to those markets. And when it comes to Electric Vehicles do I would put them in two buckets. You have traditional methods that are applied to Electric Vehicles. So I’ll give you an example: if we look at vehicle dynamics – this is a field that’s been established for a while now in the field of simulation, it’s really looking at how the vehicle behaves on the road and the curves and so on. Now you switch from a vehicle with a heavy mass at the front with the engine to something that has a battery pack, that has a much lower center of gravity, the dynamics of the vehicle is going to change. And, so the methods themselves are not necessarily very different, but people need to look at things differently a little bit, because of the impact of the new architectures on the design of these cars, and therefore their performance, like in the case of vehicle dynamics. It’s the same for crash, for example. So I’ll talk beyond crushing a second. But even when you look at crash, when you don’t have an engine in the front, it’s that much more space to absorb an impact when you crash against a wall or a car. But you also need to look at protecting the battery pack when you crash. And so those are new applications of traditional methods.
The second bucket is more about understanding those new subsystems. In an electric car, you have things that you didn’t have in a traditional car, like a battery pack, like electric drives, and like power electronics. So if I think about battery, for example, what we’ve been helping our customers with is understanding the behavior of that battery. And it’s fascinating how complex and battery cell is, in fact. You know, you have electrochemistry going on you have, you want to make sure that it ages properly, that’s within the cell. And then you need to understand at the cell level, how to protect the battery, how it deforms; slight variation in the shape of the cell can affect the performance increasingly. And then you put those cells together in a module, you still need to understand how to cool the module, how it will perform as a whole; those are very detailed models when you think about the cell model. So adding hundreds of cells together makes for very big models. So we are looking at methods to simplify those models while retaining the critical information. And then at the pack level, you have a series of modules and same thing: you need a thermal management strategy, you need to understand the vibration and how it could affect the performance of the battery pack. So, all of those are maybe using traditional techniques in simulation, but they’re really new subsystems that have a lot to be understood about. There’s a lot of research going on in the battery field.
The other field, which is very interesting to me is electric drives. When I think about electric drive, I’m talking about the electric motor, and a gearbox. That’s really what replaces the traditional engine. So those are very compact, they need to be very compact, but they need to deliver torque in order to move the car. Optimizing that performance is tricky and it’s it’s real complex. Those are very multi-disciplinary systems. So, if I look at the model itself it has electromagnetic forces that need to be understood. Those electromagnetic forces have an impact on how the different parts of the gearbox, for example, are behaving. That gearbox needs to be lubricated, so, that’s a very complex field to understand. You know, the CFD aspect, Computational Fluid Dynamics aspect of that gearbox.
And finally, even the acoustics The example I like is in those electric car, since you don’t have an engine anymore. at low speed, you will hear a lot more because it’s not covered by the sound of the engine anymore. So, even though at medium and high speed, you’ll still hear the tire and you still hear the wind noise, at low speed, usually it was covered by the engine. So now you have a whole bunch of new sounds that may appear that may appear that you weren’t used to and understanding the acoustics of the electric drive is something we see being pretty important for our customers.
Matthew Hall 14:07 The things you’ve never thought about in traditional cars that we have now. Interesting.
Fabien Letailleur 14:11 Yeah.
Matthew Hall 14:13 Given all that we’ve talked about in the current trends, and you mentioned earlier, the cloud that got me thinking here: what do you see as the main role of cloud in that context, in particular for simulation users?
Fabien Letailleur 14:24 Right. So that’s, that’s a great question. Cloud is definitely something we see having an increasing presence. And we get increasing requests about how we can help our customers with cloud. So there’s two ways to answer that question. At the more general level, because you know, all those new startups that are getting up and running, they want to get up and running fast. They can count on a, I’d say legacy infrastructure that more traditional companies have built in them that they have built over time, right. And so they see cloud as a way to get up and running fast without having to deal with implementing a full infrastructure on premises; that makes them able to deploy full engineering solutions.
And then you were mentioning simulation users, it’s true that it’s it’s they’re a bit special – especially to us in SIMULIA. So you know, simulation is an exercise that’s computationally expensive. Running simulation needs a lot of computing power, especially when you look, if I want to take an example, when you look at aerodynamics, so understanding the flow of air around the car, in order to optimize the the coefficient of drag. Optimizing the coefficient of drag means the car needs less energy to go through the air and therefore can go longer. So effectively, you’re looking at aerodynamics to increase the range of a car, which is particularly important in the in the field of EV’s. So those those those simulations are pretty expensive computationally, and again, when you’re a young company, but even if you’re a bigger company, having a flexible way to use a lot of computational resources is critical to have a competitive edge. And this is where we see cloud helping a lot as well, our customers for a while now, more and more, as we move forward.
Matthew Hall 16:24 Well, Fabien, this has been a great conversation. I’m looking forward to the future of EVs as well as driverless cars. I can’t wait to have one myself and thank you very much for your time and sharing your thoughts and insights.
Fabien Letailleur 16:36 It was my my pleasure, Matthew. Thanks for having me. Thanks.
Matthew Hall 16:40 Thanks to everyone listening today. To find out more how to Dassault Systèmes is helping advance the design process for Electric Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in these disruptive times in the Transportation and Mobility industry. Go to: https://www.3ds.com/industries/transportation-mobility/electric-connected-autonomous-vehicles.
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I’m Matthew Hall…make it a great day!