The following is an excerpt.

The German car manufacturer Audi AG secures continued collaboration with NTNU and the SIMLab research group. Recently, they signed Audi´s first ever Higher Education Framework Research Agreement outside a non-German-speaking region. A PhD scholarship is the first individual project to be launched.

When a shiny new car model rolls off the factory floor, it is also a compact example of research with high utility value. It may take 4-5 years to transform a sketch on the drawing board into a rolling, brand-new model full of research-based technology. (Photo: Audi Media Center)
Body of the Audi A8. When a shiny new car model rolls off the factory floor, it is also a compact example of research with high utility value. It may take 4-5 years to transform a sketch on the drawing board into a rolling, brand-new model full of research-based technology. (Photo: Audi Media Center)

Audi is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium segment automobiles and has been a collaborative partner with the SIMLab group for over 20 years.

Mr. Arjan Strating (photo left), R&D Engineer in Audi Neckarsulm, confirms their long, strong, and trustful relationship with the researchers at NTNU. He says Audi continues the collaboration because they are «pleased and confident with what SIMLAb does».
The carmaker has signed many framework research agreements with German universities over the years. According to Mr. Strating, the new deal with NTNU is the first-ever of this kind that Audi has signed outside a non-German-speaking region.

 

A LONG, STRONG, AND TRUSTFUL COLLABORATION 

The research group SIMLab hosts SFI CASA, where Audi has been an industrial partner for the last 8 years. CASA’s project period ends in 2023. In a new report, CASA´s Scientific Advisory Board acknowledges the Centre’s effective working relationship with its industrial partners. They find clear evidence that the industry is keen to continue the collaboration.  CASA-director Magnus Langseth says that Audi’s new «Higher Education Framework Research Agreement» with NTNU and SIMLab proves this interest in full.

MUTUAL BENEFITS 

The new deal, in which NTNU is the formal contracting partner, states that the parties «aim to establish and expand a mutual exchange of experience and know-how and to bundle certain research activities». The document says that the two parties plan to work together within the framework of individual projects. This means that the research work will be determined case-by-case, according to Audi’s needs and interests.
The parties expect mutual benefits: Audi wants to gain direct access to the scientific know-how of the university. On their side, NTNU considers that they participate in the worldwide trend towards greater practical relevance of science.

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REPLACING PHYSICAL CRASH TESTS WITH SIMULATIONS 

In all, SFI CASA has 4 international automotive partners. They all share a common interest: to replace physical crash tests with computer simulations. The latter is SIMLab’s field of expertise and one crucial backdrop for the newly signed Audi agreement. A report mapping the potential impact of SFI CASA (2019) shows that a major car manufacturer carries out between 500 and 1000 crash tests each year. Such tests are costly. Estimates said virtual tests could save more than 100 MEUR in annual costs – per car maker.

AUDI SEARCHED IN THE HIGHEST-RANKED JOURNALS

When a shiny new car model rolls off the factory floor, it is also a compact example of research with high utility valueIt may take 4-5 years to transform a sketch on the drawing board into a rolling, brand-new model full of research-based technology. Many years ago, Audi searched in internationally recognized scientific journals to find solutions to unsolved challenges. That was how they ended up finding a research partner close to the Arctic Circle.

THE INDUSTRY PUT CASA’S MODELS TO USE

While numerical simulations have been used for several decades to support the design of car bodies, such simulations are still complemented by physical testing. The automotive industry relies heavily on physical testing on the highest system level for certification.

Some of the most extensive simulation programs in the world, LS-DYNA and PAMCRASH, have included material models for aluminium and steel developed by CASA. The group has conducted pioneering research on the behaviour of glass under the extreme impact, which is now implemented in standard Roof Strength tests. Large parts of the automotive industry use these tools today.
«Based on the new PhD project under the Higher Education Framework Research Agreement, SIMLab will continue developing good models and simulation strategies to replace physical crash tests in the future», says CASA’s director, Professor Magnus Langseth (photo).