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Paper Number 980900

Vehicle Chassis/Suspension Dynamics Analysis - Finite Element Model vs. Rigid Body Model
Yuan Zhang, Paul Xiao, Tim Palmer and Akbar Farahani
(Engineering Technology Associates, Inc.)

ABSTRACT Two beam elements chassis/suspension models with rigid vehicle body representation and finite element tires were studied under proving ground conditions. The only difference between the two models was that one used flexible beam elements and the other used rigid beams. Several proving ground road surfaces were modeled and used in the analysis, including a washboard road surface, a Belgian block type track and a pothole track,. Also analyzed were the low speed driveway-ramp and (relatively) high speed lane-change cases. The proving ground simulation results, and system compliance results as well, were compared between the two models. The differences revealed the importance and necessity of using finite element model (even just using deformable beam elements) to include the component flexibility in conducting vehicle chassis/suspension dynamic analysis.

the present authors, had studied the effect of the small deformations from chassis components like the upper/lower control arms, the torsion bar, etc., on the analysis results like the road loads being used as input for further (for example, vehicle body durability and NVH) analyses. Another effect which the rigid body approach can not cover is that from the tires. Although several different mathematical tire models had been used for some codes like ADAMS, there are major limitations in applications involving tire/road interaction. In the present paper, the effects of the small deformation occurring in the chassis/suspension components on the global vehicle dynamic behavior were studied by using two simplified vehicle dynamic models. These vehicle models, though resembling the ADAMS vehicle model in some ways, included a unique finite element tire model developed at Engineering Technology Associates, Inc., at Madison Heights, MI, and used extensively in the Virtual Proving Ground (VPG 1 ) applications (2), including durability (3) and NVH (4,5) analyses. Also included in the vehicle models was the contact algorithm between the tires and the road, because VPG is a LS-DYNA, an explicit nonlinear dynamic analysis code, based analysis methodology. These two simplified vehicle models, otherwise identical, had deformable finite beam elements and rigid beams for the chassis components, respectively. Dynamic simulations of these models under several different proving ground situations were conducted, which included a washboard road surface condition, a Belgian block road track condition, a pothole track condition, a driveway-ramp low speed cornering condition, and a (relatively) high speed lanechange handling condition as well. Most of the road surfaces were digitized from the proving ground track profiles of MGA Research, Inc. The dynamic simulation results of the two different models were compared against each other for each of the cases mentioned above to show the effects of the small
eta/VPG, also known as Virtual Proving Ground, is a trade mark of Engineering Technology Associates, Inc.

INTRODUCTION Finite element analysis, as one of the advanced computerized technologies, has been utilized in almost all stages of vehicle design and development, and played more and more important roles in vehicle durability analysis, crashworthiness and occupant safety analysis, and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) analysis (1). Fewer applications were found in the vehicle dynamics analysis area, in which the most commonly used software are those, like ADAMS, for rigid body kinematics and dynamics. One of the obvious advantages of conducting rigid body dynamics analysis is timing. The solutions can be obtained fast and thus many iterations can be done in a relatively short time period. The most important assumption in using the rigid body approach is that the global effect of the very small component deformations, which are one or two orders less than that of the springs, shocks, bushings etc., to the vehicle dynamic behavior is negligible. Although the rigid body approach is widely used vehicle dynamics analysis and the results of many such applications have been acceptable and even good, no one in the literature, to the best knowledge of 1

deformation in the components upon the global vehicle dynamic behavior. Also shown were the comparison of the toe, camber compliance and roll stiffness. For a general nonlinear dynamic system, small changes in initial/boundary conditions will not guarantee only small changes in the solution. In other words, the continuity (sometimes also called stability) of a nonlinear solution on the initial/boundary conditions and other parameters, which is true for any properly defined linear dynamic system, usually does not exist. The authors of the present paper believe that, for the highly nonlinear vehicle dynamic system, small deformations in the components may cause large changes in the global dynamic behavior of the whole system. Thus, for many proving ground cases, small deformations in such a nonlinear dynamic system as vehicle chassis/suspensions have to be considered in order to conduct an accurate dynamic analysis and/or road load generation.

Shock Absorbers Springs Panhard Rod

Dead Axle

Longitudinal Links

Figure 2: Rear Suspension - Dead Axle Type.

WASHBOARD ROAD SURFACE SIMULATION The washboard road surface is shown in Figure 3, as well as the simplified vehicle model in the simulation. The simulated vehicle speed on this road surface was 50 km/h. The road profile was of a sine wave type with wavelengths of about 600 mm and amplitudes between 15 to 28 mm.

SIMPLIFIED VEHICLE DYNAMICS MODELS The vehicle model for dynamic analysis was simplified that the vehicle body structure was represented by a rigid body with the proper mass, center of gravity (CG), moments of inertia. It was also simplified though a beam type chassis/suspension components combined with proper (linear and nonlinear) springs/dampers, different kinds of joints and bushings. Four tires of the FEA VPG/Tire model, whose global static and dynamic characteristics were properly correlated to the test results (6), were mounted to the front and rear knuckle or axle via revolute joints. An independent Macpherson type suspension was used in the front and a dead axle type suspension was used in the rear. Both models had exactly the same configuration, hard points, except one was with all the chassis/suspension components defined as elastic-perfectly plastic finite beam elements (Belytschko-Schwer type) and the other as rigid beams. The front and rear suspension models are shown in Figures 1-2.

Figure 3: Washboard Road Surface Simulation.

Shock Absorber and Spring Unit Knuckle Steering Rack

Shown in Figures 4-6 are the resulting wheel and vehicle CG displacements and forces from the simulations for the two different chassis/suspension models. Throughout this paper, the units in all the plots are: force (N), displacement (mm), and time (s). From these results, one can see that, although the differences between the two models were minor for results related to the front chassis/suspension, there were major differences between those for the rear chassis/suspension. The differences are also presented in Table 1.

Lower Control Arms Anti-roll Bar Knuckle Figure 1: Front Suspension Model - Independent MacPherson Type.

In each of the several proving ground situations studied here, exactly the same initial/boundary/loading conditions were used as inputs for the two models. All the simulations were done through the LS-DYNA based VPG analysis procedures. 2

a) Front Tire

a) Front Wheel

b) Rear Tire Figure 5: Washboard Simulation - Contact Forces.

b) Rear Wheel

a) Front Spring

c) Vehicle CG

Figure 4: Washboard Simulation - Displacements. Solid Line - Deformable Beam Model; Dash Line - Rigid Beam Model. b) Rear Spring Figure 6: Washboard Simulation - Spring Forces. Solid Line - Deformable Beam Model; Dash Line - Rigid Beam Model. Table 1: Washboard Simulation Results

relative difference (%)* wheel center displacement contact force spring force front rear front rear front rear < 18 % (+)** < 33 % (+) < 2 % (+) < 15 % (+) < 2 % (+) < 100 % (+)

The results of displacements at the wheel centers and the vehicle CG and the forces at the tire/road contact patches and the suspension springs are plotted in the Figures 9-11, as comparisons for the two different chassis/suspension models.

* Relative to results from deformable beam model. Same for all the tables. ** Positive means rigid result is bigger, negative means rigid result is smaller. Same for all the tables.

BELGIAN BLOCK ROAD SIMULATION The Belgian block type road is a road surface similar to the cobblestone track. The road surface is modeled by shell elements with nodes on the measured points. Again the vehicle speed on the track was set to 50 km/h. Shown in Figure 7 is vehicle model running on the track. The deformation of tires are shown in Figure 8.

a) Front Wheel

b) Rear Wheel

Figure 7: Vehicle Model on the Belgian Block Track.

Figure 8: Tire Deformation in Belgian Block Track Simulation.

c) Vehicle CG Figure 9: Belgian Block Simulation - Displacements. Solid Line - Deformable Beam Model; Dash Line - Rigid Beam Model.

In Table 2, specific values of the displacements and forces from the Belgian block track simulations are listed. Here again, the data related to the rear suspension for the two models shows much significant differences than that from the front .
Table 2: Belgian Block Track Simulation Results

displacement vertical contact force vertical spring force

a) Front Tire

front wheel center rear wheel center vehicle CG front tires rear tires front spring rear spring

relative difference < 1 % (-) up to 14 % (-) < 1 % (-) about 6 % (+) up to 17 % (-) about 4 % (-) up to 7 % (-)

POTHOLE TRACK SIMULATIONS The pothole track, also digitized from the MGA Proving Ground data, was considered one of the most damaging proving ground events which provides both vertical and longitudinal forces to the vehicle body structure through the tire/wheel and chassis/suspension sub-systems. Four potholes with alternating groups of two (right and left) were modeled with approximately 120 mm in depth and 1.8 m apart. The vehicle speed used in the present simulations was a little over 5000 mm/s or 12 mph. Shown in Figure 12 is the vehicle model traveling on the track before hitting one of the potholes. Figures 13 and 14 show the deformation of the front and rear tires when impacting the potholes, respectively. The simulation results for the displacements and the forces of both models are shown in Figures 15-18.

b) Rear Tire Figure 10: Belgian Block Simulation - Contact Forces.

a) Front Spring

b) Rear Spring Figure 11: Belgian Block Simulation - Spring Forces. Solid Line - Deformable Beam Model; Dash Line - Rigid Beam Model.

Figure 12: Vehicle Model on Pothole Track.