Cutting-edge research into future vehicle technology at the University of Bath’s Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) is set to be further enhanced, following the signing of an expansive research agreement with testing equipment leader AVL.
IAAPS and Austria-based powertrain testing specialist, AVL List GmbH, have sealed a Research Collaboration Agreement that will see them work closely together on innovation and research projects in the development of future technologies for vehicle engines, electric vehicles and associated systems.
AVL is key equipment supplier to IAAPS, and has already worked with the Institute’s academics and technical staff to specify and supply state-of-the-art testing equipment to its new £70 million research facility near Bristol, which opens this summer.
The IAAPS research facility, at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, will build upon the institute’s work on innovative technologies to support the automotive industry’s move to ultra-low and zero-emissions vehicles. The new agreement with see the two organisations collaborate closely on research projects, help plan future testing equipment, software and techniques, and feed their innovations back into the automotive industry.
Professor Chris Brace, IAAPS Academic Director, says: “AVL is the world’s leading developer of test equipment, engineering software and engineering services, so clearly this is significant partnership for us.
“Our goal is to be years ahead of what is currently cutting-edge, so we didn’t simply want to buy in existing equipment. It was important for us to have a truly collaborative relationship with our equipment and software partner to help us achieve our vision of improving on what is state of the art and developing tools and techniques that are beyond those possible today. Having a deeply integrated, wide-ranging relationship with AVL allows us to build on the capability we each have, extend it, and go further.”
Prof Brace says the use of AVL’s latest equipment and software tools will allow IAAPS researchers to explore how digital development, testing and manufacturing planning could help automotive companies and OEMs be more responsive to a changing legislative and consumer landscape. He adds: “Digital tools will be crucial to creating a flexible and agile future for the automotive industry, so these are a major element of our research and our work with AVL.”
The partnership will also support another of IAAPS’ key objectives of training of future automotive professionals, as AVL will sponsor the work of at least 10 PhD candidates within the Institute’s AAPS Centre for Doctoral Training.
Yvonne Ascott, Centre Manager of AAPS, adds: “Our Centre for Doctoral Training is a crucial part of IAAPS - we’re helping PhD candidates become the rounded and highly-skilled professionals that the UK needs to compete in a rapidly changing automotive landscape.
“This agreement is exciting in many ways, not least AVL’s sponsorship of at least 10 PhD places, and the tight integration between the two organisations that will help our candidates work on tools and techniques that could proliferate within the industry, giving them crucial expertise and a real competitive advantage.”
Dirk Denger, Manager, Synergistic Methods and Tool Development at AVL, says: “This is the most significant University collaboration AVL has embarked on to date, and to share the ambition and scale of this important research project with our partners in IAAPS is very exciting.
“The relationship will also allow the outcomes of the research by IAAPS to be incorporated into future AVL commercial products, so it’s a unique opportunity to develop new techniques that could make impacts industry-wide. Both IAAPS and AVL are energised by the prospect of involving end-users, such as auto manufacturers and suppliers, in the research, products and services that we develop together.”
AVL is supplying a full suite of state-of-the-art equipment to the facility, including test rigs and chambers that will be able to measure the efficiency and performance of individual parts, motors, engines and even complete vehicles in precise detail.
The IAAPS facility will become one of the world’s most advanced research centres of its type, with existing IAAPS partners including tier-one auto manufacturers set to use the facility to help develop their future vehicles and systems.
The University of Bath is investing £30 million in the construction of the IAAPS facility, alongside investments from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (£28.9 million) and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund (£10 million).
Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “AVL has the technical capability to help IAAPS create a world-leading facility that will play a key role in directing the development of the engines, motors and propulsion systems of the future.
“This research collaboration agreement gives both IAAPS and AVL access to the other’s world-class expertise and will bring major benefits in both directions, and to the industry.”