Sometime during the first half of this new year, Honda will become the world’s first carmaker to begin using new state-of-the-art driving simulator technology, based on a revolutionary architecture called DiM250 (Driver-in-Motion). The advanced system has been designed by simulator software developer VI-grade, and is engineered and manufactured by automatic controls specialist Saginomiya. The new simulator will be installed at Honda R&D Europe’s technical centre in Germany.

Most driving simulators make use of motion technology derived from flight simulators, and typically use 6 actuators to deliver 6 ‘degrees of freedom’. However, to accurately reproduce vehicle ride, handling and acceleration characteristics within a single simulator, VI-grade’s DiM250 system uses 9 actuators to create additional ranges of motion – this is unique in the industry.

Its electrically-driven 9-actuator platform is more advanced than conventional ‘hexapod’ designs, and the whole system moves by sliding on airpads, rather than using additional mechanical rails. The airpads counterbalance the high payloads and dynamic loads, and help to make the simulator extremely stiff, silent and reliable.

Since 1996, Honda has also been selling motorcycle and car simulators for traffic safety education.

“We expect to use DiM250 primarily for vehicle dynamics and ride applications, as well as using it as a crucial tool to develop and test our ADAS, HMI, powertrain and autonomous driving technologies earlier in the design process,” said Yasunori Oku, Executive Vice-President, Honda R&D Europe. “The DiM250 technology will provide an ideal common development platform for our research and development activities, where all teams involved can work together in one single collaborative environment.”

The integration of Software-in-loop (SIL) and Hardware-in-loop (HIL) applications within the simulator will enable designers and engineers to evaluate advancements in the vehicle development cycle before physical prototypes have even been built.

The new simulator will also be able to more accurately present a wide range of problem scenarios to test safety systems and controls. This will then be supplemented by real-world testing to refine systems before they are introduced in new models.

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