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The research will improve the quality and capabilities of simulation, using sights, sounds and even smells to make virtual simulation more realistic.

Loughborough University key partner in new Jaguar Land Rover and EPSRC £10 million virtual engineering research programme

Loughborough University has been announced as a key partner in a series of new research projects that will advance the UK’s role in developing virtual simulation technologies.

The £10 million five-year Programme for Simulation Innovation (PSI) was unveiled by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Rt.Hon Dr Vince Cable MP.  It is being led by Jaguar Land Rover, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and some of the country’s leading academics.

Together they will develop the capability of the virtual simulation industry in the UK and will give manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover access to new, world-class simulation tools and processes. This is the first phase of a 20-year strategic project that could put the UK at the leading edge of virtual simulation globally.

The research will improve the quality and capabilities of simulation, using sights, sounds and even smells to make virtual simulation more realistic.

Giving engineers a more realistic perception of what a design might achieve, as well as giving them access to more powerful computers, will mean even more engineering can be virtual. This will help manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover deliver more complex new vehicle programmes more quickly. It will also help save costs in product development by reducing the reliance on physical prototypes and have environmental benefits by limiting the number of prototypes that need to be driven and tested in the real world.

Loughborough University is running two of the five projects within the programme. Dr Martin Passmore from the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering is leading a £1.8 million project to make advances in the underlying simulation techniques.  The aim is to increase the breadth and depth of available Computer Aided Engineering methods, to make simulation available throughout the engineering design process and to improve future engineering and design decisions.

Professor Charles Dickerson from the University’s Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering is leading a second £1.8 million project to develop methods to enable a comprehensive analysis of the vehicle as a complex system. This will enable better integration of the many digital features and functions of the vehicle and a shorter time to market.

Announcing the funding Dr Cable said: “With world-class universities and cutting edge companies like Jaguar Land Rover, the UK is well placed to be at the forefront of driving innovation and developing new technology. This investment will support the Government’s industrial strategy by boosting the UK’s manufacturing capability and helping to keep us globally competitive.”

The PSI project is funded by Jaguar Land Rover (£4 million), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (£4 million) and the partner universities (£2 million), and is split into two phases that will run over the next five years. The five projects announced today form the first phase and will make up 80 per cent of the programme.

Bob Joyce, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director, said: “While we already utilise a wide range of sophisticated virtual engineering tools and processes to design, engineer and test our new vehicles, we are keen to enhance the future capability of virtual simulation and tailor them for automotive product development. We want to make advances in the simulated driver and passenger experience, including more realistic imagery, sounds and even smells.  These projects will help us analyse increasingly complex cars at whole vehicle, system and component levels, as well as enhancing the high performance computers that industry will use in the future to mine increasing amounts of more complex data.

“Jaguar Land Rover believes the UK needs to be globally competitive in industrial innovation. Collaboration between Jaguar Land Rover and academia to develop new automotive applications will give the UK an opportunity to take a lead in virtual simulation technology.”