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Can you imagine starting your car, pushing a button, and it drives you to work? This technology is not as far in the future as you may think. Cars such as Mercedes Benz’s S-class and Audi’s A7 prototype have a traffic jam assist feature which at speeds under 40 mph, a button can be pressed and the car will drive itself on the highway. The system uses an array of cameras, sensors, and radars to follow the car in front at a safe distance while staying within its lane. If another car cuts in front of it with the feature active, the brakes will be automatically applied and the car will be again adjusted to follow at a safe distance. The driver can take control of vehicle by replacing his or her hand back on the steering wheel. This technology is not in your more common cars, but most new cars have automatic braking assistance, or object avoidance. These systems use sensors and radars to apply the brakes fully or partially to avoid an object or person that may be the in the vehicles path. Some systems have the ability to automatically steer around the obstruction. Because this technology is very recent and developing rapidly, automotive technician curriculums and simulators used to teach trouble shooting methods have not caught up. Though you can find these systems on most new cars and the automotive industry seems to be moving towards developing autonomous vehicles, there is no company currently manufacturing simulators equipped with this technology. Teaching students how to trouble shoot cars equipped with these systems presents a great challenge for automotive technician instructors. In an attempt to update its automotive curriculum to adapt to new technology, J Sergeant Reynolds Community College (JSRCC) ordered several new instructional simulators. These simulators use recent automotive technology, but are very limited in object detection or automatic braking. For Instance, the OEM light and accessory system with doors can do any lighting or door function of a Chevy Cobalt. The simulator is a unit equipped with Cobalt doors which open, it stands still and allows students to trouble shoot any of the lighting or Door functions of a Cobalt. The electronic system has preprogrammed bugs that students must trouble shoot, identify, and fix as a part of their training. JSRCC wants an actual vehicle that moves remotely, can be equipped with object detection, automatic breaking, and steering systems to give students a real life interactive instructional simulation. This will be a one of a kind instructional tool that will give students the ability to see these systems work, then by applying a preprogrammed bug the students will have to troubleshoot and repair the vehicle so that it is operating properly again. The plan in achieving this goal is to design a remote controlled chassis equipped with a steering and braking system. The chassis will have an override that can be integrated with an object detection/automatic braking system. The OEM light simulator will be attached to the chassis by permanent means. The completed instructional vehicle will be remote controlled and have all the lighting and door features of a Chevy Cobalt. It will also be able to be able to detect an object in front of it. If the object is big enough to cause damage to the car or harm to its passengers, the object detection system will override the remote and automatically apply the brakes stopping the vehicle. If the object can be cleared by a slight veer, the system will override the steering system to steer around the object while applying the brakes enough to complete this maneuver. The mechanical engineers on this project are specifically responsible for designing and manufacturing a remote controlled chassis with an electronic steering and braking scheme, attaching the OEM light and accessory simulator to the chassis, and incorporating an override of these systems for an object detection arrangement.

Publication Date



mechanical and nuclear engineering, automotive simulator


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Charles Cartin

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2015

Automotive Object Detection Simulator