Fidelity of using scaled vehicles for chassis dynamic studies

S. Lapapong, V. Gupta, E. Callejas, S. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


There are many situations where physical testing of a vehicle or vehicle controller is necessary, yet use of a full-size vehicle is not practical. Some situations include implementation testing of novel actuation strategies, analysing the behaviour of chassis feedback control under system faults, or near-unstable situations such as limit handling under driver-assist feedback control. Historically, many have advocated the use of scale vehicles as surrogates for larger vehicles. This article presents analysis and experimental testing that examines the fidelity of using scaled vehicles for vehicle chassis dynamics and control studies. In support of this effort, this work introduces an experimental system called the Pennsylvania State University Rolling Roadway Simulator (the PURRS). In the PURRS, a custom-built scale-sized vehicle is freely driven on a moving roadway surface. While others have used scale-vehicle rolling roadway simulators in the past, this work is the first to attempt to directly match the planar dynamic performance of the scale-sized vehicle to a specific full-sized vehicle by careful design of the scale vehicle. This article explains details of this effort including vehicle dynamic modelling, detailed measurement of model parameters, conditions for dynamic similitude, validation of the resulting experimental vehicle in the time, frequency, and dimensionless domains. The results of the dynamic comparisons between scale- and full-sized vehicles clearly illustrate operational regimes where agreement is quite good, and other regimes where agreement is quite poor. Both are useful to understand the applicability of scale-vehicle results to full-size vehicle analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1437
Number of pages37
JournalVehicle System Dynamics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Mechanical Engineering


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