A Test That Connects Virtuality To Reality
Project Minotaur has existed in virtual reality for a long time, but now that customers are testing real units the development team is also collecting data. One area in which they’re particularly interested in is the structural stress caused by various duty cycle operations.
“We put our deep experience in CTL and dozer performance into our CAD-CAM software, and then modeled our customers’ primary use cases,” explained Layne Ostmeyer, Test Engineer.
“The first test revealed that most of that planning was right on point,” added Eric Waters, Lead Test Engineer. “So now we’re focused on optimization.”
The test that connects these two versions of Project Minotaur is called “field load reconstruction” and involves placing hundreds of sensors, or gauges, at key points on a unit, as defined by the virtual model.
“These sensors allow us to determine the stress levels during primarily used operations and use the data to estimate the fatigue life of the various components within the machine,” said Ostmeyer.
The key unit of measurement, called “strain,” is an expression of stress arising from linear displacement of a material within an area. The real-world data is collected with data acquisition equipment and then fed into the virtual model.
“We can look at data from different aspects of the system, like the coupler, H-link, and undercarriage and see how the individual components interact with the whole system,” said Waters. “After we process the field data we can see strain levels across the entire structure and not just where we placed the gauges.”
This also means that the team can iterate subsequent virtual models of stress performance informed with that real-world data, which is especially useful now that customers are giving them feedback on how their units work.
“Field load reconstruction is another testing regime that helps give us high confidence that Project Minotaur will be ready for operations in the real-world,” Waters added.