Ansible Motion’s simulator selected to boost Formula E team

22nd May 2024
Paige West

Penske Autosport is the latest professional motorsport team to add Ansible Motion’s Delta S3 Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator to its arsenal, as the team mounts its title challenge in the 2024 FIA ABB Formula E Championship.

With 48K image rendering, a full 360° wrap-around screen, real Formula E cockpit environment and Ansible Motion’s motion, vision, audio, and computer solutions, Penske Autosport will benefit from a highly immersive tool to develop and improve the complex mix of powertrain, software and race strategies needed to succeed in the all-electric world championship.

Launched just two years ago, the Delta S3 dynamic DIL simulator is proving to be a go-to standard for high level motorsport teams and vehicle manufacturers to develop, refine, and test vehicles and technologies in the digital domain. Honda Racing Corporation, Ford Performance, Stake F1 Team (Sauber Motorsport), Pratt Miller as well as at least one other unnamed Formula E team have previously installed Ansible Motion dynamic simulators. Now Penske Autosport will use Ansible Motion’s most advanced driving simulator to date to unlock performance and efficiency gains, benefitting from the versatility and turn-key usability for engineers and drivers alike.

Nicolas Mauduit, EVP at Penske Autosport states: “There was no question about acquiring a Driver-in-the-Loop simulator here at Penske Autosport, since the benefits are significant. The question for us was finding the right simulator technology, and from a performance perspective Ansible Motion’s Delta S3 was the only simulator that checked all the boxes. Our drivers, Stoffel Vandoorne [2022 Formula E World Champion] and Jean-Éric Vergne [2018 and 2019 Formula E Champion] will rely on it, as well as our engineering team to maximise performance.”

The Delta S3’s ability to replicate highly dynamic manoeuvres in real time with ultra-low latency not only satisfied its talented and experienced drivers but also its engineers who will rely on the simulator to validate torque mapping, electro-mechanical driver controls and other specific areas which are vital to understand the sensitive inputs synonymous with getting the most from a Formula E car. Underlining its versatility, the Delta S3 connects seamlessly with on-board ECUs for the powertrain and the eight CAN bus networks used in the category’s chassis. This offers engineers and drivers the ability to interact in real-time with Hardware in the Loop (HIL) and Software in the Loop (SIL) systems – replicating what they will experience in the real car.

Jean-Éric Vergne adds: “Realism is particularly important. Some simulators look good on paper, but somehow fail to deliver a realistic experience. They can be nervous or ‘buzzy’ in a way that’s not quite right – and that’s ultimately not acceptable for working with our engineers to develop the car for maximum performance. Compared to other simulators, the Ansible Motion’s motion and visual cues are superior, matching exactly what I’d expect from a physics perspective.”

Stoffel Vandoorne also adds: “I can’t wait to test this new state-of-the-art simulator from Ansible Motion. I know first-hand how helpful a great sim can be not only for track acclimatisation but also for engineering development.”

By focusing on a human-centric, physics-based approach to simulation, and by closely monitoring field use cases, Ansible Motion has continuously evolved its patented Stratiform six-degree-of freedom motion base (as well as its other motion and feedback systems) over the years. Penske Autosport’s simulator features a Stratiform 3 (S3) with 360° yaw capability, a large 4 x 4m ground plane motion envelope and a Quick-change Cabin System (AML QCS). Motion cueing is further enhanced by Ansible Motion’s pioneering steering, driver body loading and haptic feedback systems, which are fully integrated into the Formula E cockpit environment.

The motion capability of the Delta S3 provides high-class motion fidelity for track driving, allowing cued simulation of the large onset and sustained g-forces demanded by the teams’ proprietary vehicle and tyre physics models, and effortlessly accommodates simultaneous braking, accelerating and turning events – common on the tight street circuits which feature prominently on the Formula E calendar. The proprietary Quick-change Cabin System reduces cabin/cockpit swap times to under 30 minutes and can accommodate up to a 700kg payload.

The Delta S3 was rigorously evaluated by Penske Autosport to confirm all areas of dynamic performance such as motion control and cueing, latency, and frequency response. An added benefit from Penske Autosport’s perspective is that installation of the Delta S3 simulator did not require floor reinforcements or significant groundwork, minimising installation costs and leading to its quick operational status.

Penske Autosport also identified other technical and cost advantages from Ansible Motion’s presence within the larger AB Dynamics group. Technical benefits include seamless integration reach into other areas and tools, including rFpro – a realistic, engineering-grade visual simulation environment. rFpro delivers accurate track surface modelling and visual content that, when coupled with Ansible Motion’s vision, motion, and audio systems, maximises driver immersion and, ultimately, real-world physics correlation. Penske Autosport’s new rFpro-equipped Delta S3 simulator environment will allow trackside engineers to relay feedback to the team’s ‘mission control’ to easily update digital twin track models during race weekends. Necessary, on-demand changes – such as adding a new bump or kerb placement – can be achieved in around 30 minutes.

“Human-vehicle interaction a key part of optimising performance, and that is a real differentiator for on-track success in Formula E,” says Dan Clark, Managing Director at Ansible Motion. “Our Delta S3 simulator is proving to be quite versatile, and unique, in that it’s being widely adopted by both vehicle manufacturers and top motorsport teams who are seeking to successfully connect real people with virtual development environments. We are delighted to supply Penske Autosport with a turn-key Delta S3 ecosystem that meets the team’s needs today and into the future. Drawing on the skills and integration capabilities within the wider AB Dynamics group, we are able to deliver this simulator – with unrivalled performance and value – in record time to support Penske Autosport in its pursuit of excellence.” 

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