The University of California at Davis (UC Davis) was among 15 North American universities to participate in the 2001 FutureTruck Competition. This competition gives students an opportunity to apply skills learned in school to a real-world engineering project: Participants must reengineer a sport utility vehicle so as to reduce emissions and fuel consumption without sacrificing vehicle performance or safety. As a FutureTruck sponsor, The MathWorks provided its software for students to use throughout the competition.
UC Davis won the 2001 FutureTruck championship and the MathWorks Vehicle Modeling & Dynamics award. Their "plug-in" hybrid electric version of a conventional 2000 Chevrolet Suburban was judged to have the best combination of low tailpipe emissions, high fuel economy, low global warming gases, and good powertrain performance.
The team used MATLAB, Simulink, and a Simulink based vehicle modeling program called PSAT to develop the powertrain strategy for their vehicle. "I feel that our vehicle won because we had the best success in implementing our hybrid powertrain and control strategy, and MATLAB and Simulink played a very important role," says UC Davis Future Truck advisor Dr. Mark Duvall. "Using Simulink, thestudents could develop systems models that were both accurate and easy to modify."