BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Featuring a state-of-the-art driving simulator rarely seen outside of Formula One, Honda Performance Development officially opened its Indiana Tech Center here Wednesday.
Driver-in-the-Loop simulator technology has been employed successfully by HPD’s sports- car racing program since 2007 at a facility in England. HPD’s new Tech Center brings that capability to the mid-west, a location central to the American racing community.
A DIL Simulator can save racing teams both time and money, as extensive test programs can be run through the simulator, with the team’s driver at the wheel and engineers monitoring “lap times”, prior to going to the expense and time-consuming process of actual on-track testing.
“Because [setup] changes can be done so quickly, the DIL Simulator allows you to run through many more [chassis geometry and track condition] changes than you could perform with an actual race car,” said Gil de Ferran, Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy car champion and now a consultant to HPD. “It also allows you to perform experiments that would be completely impractical – or highly expensive – on an actual race car.”
Design and construction of this latest-generation DIL Simulator began in the summer of 2012, and a site in the Indianapolis suburb of Brownsburg was selected for its central location and proximity to racing teams and drivers.
After construction and initial testing, the DIL Simulator was installed at the new HPD Tech Center in Brownsburg and began operations earlier this month. In the future, in addition to Honda-powered IndyCar and sports-car racing teams, the Simulator and HPD Tech Center facilities will be available for use by teams taking part in other series. HPD offers in-house engineering support for drivers and teams utilizing the DIL Simulator. Customized simulations can be established to meet the specific needs of the teams.
“Similar to the decision to design, develop and build the new Acura NSX in Ohio, the HPD Tech Center is another example of Honda bringing R&D activities to the heart of the North American motorsports community, said Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president and chief operating officer. “This is a development tool that will bring benefits to all of our motorsports activities, through a focus on total vehicle performance encompassing both engine and chassis.”
The HPD DIL Simulator provides a cost-effective means of testing chassis setup changes, aerodynamics, engine mapping and future development paths, prior to turning a wheel on the race track. It also allows teams to replicate and experience many on-track situations, including changing track temperatures, surface grip, air temperature and wind direction/strength.
The Simulator provides an opportunity for drivers and engineers to strengthen their working relationships and understanding of one another, without the expense and time required by on- track testing. In addition, drivers can learn circuits and configurations prior to arriving at a new track. It can also be used as a coaching tool, and aid in driver development programs.