University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why your ride is more of a glide

In recent years, automobiles have become quieter and more comfortable.

For that you can thank an engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

box4Dr. Jeffrey Bennighof, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics in the Cockrell School of Engineering, developed software that manufacturers have used to reduce noise and vibration.

The Automated Multilevel Substructuring (AMLS) software enables fast and accurate prediction of car vibrations over a wide frequency range on inexpensive computers. Analyses are done in hours on PC processors that would have taken days on a central supercomputer a decade ago.

Prof. Jeffrey Bennighof's software for vibration analysis for autos was first developed for submarines.

Prof. Jeffrey Bennighof's software for vibration analysis for autos was first developed for submarines.

Nearly all automakers around the world license AMLS from the university and use it to make their products competitive.

AMLS had its origins in a research project focused on submarines, according to Bennighof.

As research funding for submarines waned with the end of the Cold War, the auto industry began creating detailed computer models of entire cars so that they could be analyzed and made quieter while they were still on the drawing board.

This is where AMLS software comes in. Automakers run it to see how engine vibrations and driving on rough pavement affect noise levels inside the car.

“They might decide to improve the vibration performance by increasing the thickness of certain body panels or adding materials to absorb vibration,” Bennighof says.

“Car companies value AMLS because it enables them to improve marketability of their products: car buyers associate low interior noise levels with higher quality,” he says. “Harnessing that value has allowed funds to flow back to the university to support ongoing research and software development.”

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