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Grad Student Tackles Vehicle Safety Testing Through Simulator Development

Jaxon WilkersonJaxon WilkersonJaxon Wilkerson, a graduate research assistant working in the Driving Dynamics Lab (DDL) is helping transform the way the automotive industry tackles vehicle safety testing. Wilkerson began his journey as a mechanical engineering undergraduate at The Ohio State University and is now part of a research group developing a driving simulator to test advanced driver-assisted systems at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

The Driving Dynamics Lab looks at vehicle dynamics and active-safety work mostly through the use and development of the vehicle dynamics driver-in-the-loop simulator.

During his work in the DDL Jaxon is being advised by Giorgio Rizzoni, director of CAR and Jeffrey Chrstos, research scientist at CAR.

“The biggest thing that drew me to CAR in the first place was working with Professor Rizzoni, he’s a big name in the field, and then within that the available opportunities that were out there specifically doing something with safety systems. What’s relevant right now and becoming more relevant is driving simulators, so when Professor Rizzoni said that was an option here at CAR that was most in line with my goals,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson is focusing on the development and testing of active-safety systems through the driving simulator. Active-safety systems help to decrease the chances of accidents before they occur; mirrors, car sensors and brake assist for example. As opposed to passive-safety systems, which mitigate damage after the collision has occurred; air bags, seat belts and the structure of the vehicle.

“Those active safety systems first get developed in a simulator, because part of the developmental phase is going to save a bunch of time and capital once you have the initial simulator investment,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson came to CAR to work on these active systems, he focuses on the sensors and automated systems that work in the background which help to prevent vehicle collisions.

“On a simulator all the systems require sensors, so we have what’s called high-fidelity vehicle models, so our vehicle reacts like a real vehicle does, not like a game, we’re not entertainment we’re an engineering tool,” Wilkerson said.

After completing his master’s at CAR, Wilkerson has set his sights on original equipment manufacturing in the transportation field. He wants to take his experience at the DDL and work for an automotive manufacturer doing developmental design, working in a research group or designing active safety systems.

Written by Muhammed Al Refai, Marketing and Communications Intern