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Ricardo awarded funding to develop digital-twin design and optimization for electrified powertrains

As automakers seek to use digital engineering to speed-up development and improve real-world product quality and efficiency in electric and hybrid vehicles, Ricardo has been awarded £113,000 (US$150,000) in funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)—delivered through Innovate UK —to develop digital-twin-based design and optimization solutions for electrified powertrains.

A digital twin is a representation of any physical product that can be used for monitoring, simulating and optimizing design and assessing operational performance. Digital twin technology can bring a significant reduction in electric powertrain development time, cost and risk: through up-front design analysis, optimization and testing in a virtual environment, and thus reducing the need for multiple prototypes.

The key objective of Ricardo’s project, which will run for the next six months, is to assess the impact of digital-twin techniques on product development. A secondary objective is to evaluate the application of digital twin technology to in-service product maintenance.

Ricardo’s intention is to apply its expertise in powertrain reduced order modeling for real-time applications and propose innovative business models for virtual product maintenance solutions.

In this project, the first focus will be to define digital twin requirements for each of the key sub-systems within an electrified powertrain. The second focus will be developing digital twins for each sub-system which meets these requirements. The third point of focus is the integration of each sub-system, to create an electrified powertrain digital twin. This system level digital twin will be used, as part of the virtual product development process, in the design and optimization of the electrified powertrain.

The expectation is that the project will deliver three innovations, key building blocks in the digitalization of electrified powertrain development and in-service maintenance, which will enable Ricardo to deliver clean and efficient propulsion systems with significantly reduced timescales, saving tens of millions of pounds per product.

  1. The definition of a digital twin for electrified powertrain sub-systems, including model hierarchy, data exchange, historical data management and standardized interfaces.

  2. Simplified models using automatic model reduction, that allow faster interactions when results are required at small time scales.

  3. The use of digital twins as part of a virtual product development process.


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