A Visit to SAE International’s 2018 World Congress Experience (WCX)

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International hosted their automotive-focused 2018 World Congress Experience (WCX) during 10-12 of April .  The conference was held at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI—best known as the center of the U.S. automobile industry and home to the “Big Three” auto manufacturers: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

The event provides a forum for participants to experience all of the technologies and innovations being pursued by a dedicated cast of scientists, engineers, and practitioners who are collaborating towards advancing the state-of-the-art in transportation engineering.

Taking center stage at this year’s conference was a lot of excitement surrounding the debut of self-driving vehicles in which the ecosystem—consisting of automakers, technology providers, lawmakers, regulatory providers, infrastructure developers, and drivers—each have a role in making this unprecedented automotive advancement a reality.  One of the highlights was the debut of a specialized technical program focused on the future technology of connected, autonomous vehicles called Connect2Car. This program featured a Connected Vehicle Challenge in which five finalists selected from dozens of submissions presented their innovations to a panel of celebrity judges for the chance to win cash prizes.

While many were looking to the future of the automotive industry, the SAE International Mobility History Committee hosted four areas featuring presentations, sessions, and displays showcasing vehicles from the past that included historical vehicles whose innovations paved the way towards autonomy.  Vehicles like the 1960 Cadillac Coupe DeVille were on display highlighting the very first use of automatic speed control in an automobile.

Given our interest in meshing here at Pointwise, I sought out a number of technical sessions to discover which CAE tools were favored among CFD and FEA practitioners while also learning a bit about the unique challenges they currently face.  While there were a number of sessions covering topics ranging from Advanced Propulsion and Powertrain to Materials and Lightweighting, I limited my focus to a number of Vehicle Aerodynamics and CAD/CAM/CAE Technology panels over the course of the three days.

Notably, one presenter introduced an automatic hex-dominant mesh generation approach for complex flow configurations.  The authors correctly assert how hexahedral elements offer several advantages including a lower memory footprint, reduced computational time, and improved solution accuracy, but they also emphasized the one drawback related to how difficult it can be to automate generating these types of meshes for complex geometries.

Pointwise introduced its own quad-dominant surface meshing algorithm with the release of 18.0 R1.  Used in conjunction with our 3-D T-Rex technique for resolving the near-body mesh with anisotropic elements and our Glyph scripting capability, automated hex-dominant meshes are readily created by many of our users today.  With the recent release of Pointwise 18.1 R1, voxel meshes provide a quick way to generate an off-body volume grid primarily consisting of hexahedra.  The latest release of Pointwise also includes the ability to split an unstructured volume grid, or block.  Taken together, these provide advanced users the ability to create near-body hexahedral meshes by using either our 3-D T-Rex meshing technique, or via extrusion, and coupling it to an off-body voxel mesh with a point-matched interface as shown in Figure 1.  By adopting this approach, a lot of time can be saved creating hex-dominant meshes around complex geometries; thereby, eliminating the primary drawback in creating these types of grids.


Figure 1: A hex-dominant mesh around an ONERA M6 wing was created in Pointwise V18.1 R1 by coupling a block created using 3-D T-Rex with another block created by using the new voxel meshing option.  Here the shock discontinuity is sharply resolved, while the low-pressure wake behind the wing diffuses less quickly as it propagates downstream than with an equivalent all tetrahedral mesh.

The SAE World Congress Exchange is an excellent opportunity for those interested in the future of the automotive industry to exchange ideas, interact with others, and gain exposure to all of the technologies and innovations being introduced.  It will certainly be interesting to see how this paradigm shift to self-driving vehicles evolves as the 2020 industry milepost draws nearer.  In the meantime, give our latest release, Pointwise 18.1 R1 a try, and request an evaluation if you haven’t already.

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