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Release: April 15, 1999

UI hosts National Science Foundation center review

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A multi-university National Science Foundation (NSF) research Center led by the University of Iowa, in partnership with the University of Texas-Austin, will host a key program review April 22-23 on the UI campus. In partnership with U.S. industry and the Department of Defense, the Center is developing virtual proving grounds for vehicle engineering.

The UI-based Center, known as the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) for Virtual Proving Ground Simulation, in collaboration with the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the UI, is creating computer-driven vehicle proving grounds for research and development. The ultimate goal is to use the emerging capability of the NADS to eliminate the need to construct and test numerous expensive prototypes during vehicle development. Dr. Alex Schwarzkopf, director of the NSF I/UCRC program and its 53 centers across the country, will represent NSF in the review.

Center sponsors include major corporations such as John Deere, Caterpillar, United Defense, and General Dynamics, developers and manufacturers of off-road agricultural, construction, and military vehicles. Other commercial members of the center are LMS CADSI, a leading vendor of dynamic simulation software products, and Goodyear Corp., an international leader in tire manufacturing and technology. Army organizations who sponsor the Center's research program include the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Test and Evaluation Command, Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Command, and Materiel Systems Analysis Agency. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also a Center sponsor.

The virtual proving ground modeling and simulation technology being developed by the Center will enable the NADS, which is to be operational in May 2000, to be used by a broad cross-section of U.S. industry and government organizations. Virtual proving grounds being developed by the Center will enable its sponsors to use the NADS to revolutionize the process of vehicle system design. The partnership between the Universities of Iowa and Texas-Austin is contributing fundamentally new vehicle simulation and electromechanical technologies, respectively, to the rapidly growing field of electric vehicle development.

The Center is led by UI Carver Distinguished Professor Ed Haug. L.D. Chen, professor of mechanical engineering, who is serving as interim NADS director, leads I/UCRC and NADS efforts in fuel cell research for electric vehicles. Currently under construction, the NADS will be a national shared-use facility. It will be the world's most advanced driving simulator for research to achieve fundamental improvements in highway safety and transportation efficiency. With the virtual proving grounds being developed by the NSF Center, this revolutionary new simulator will enhance vehicle and equipment product development effectiveness, minimizing the number of expensive prototypes that must be fabricated and tested.