A Modern Electric Bus Fleet: Improving Public Transit with System-Level Modeling
The implementation of new technologies into existing operations can create a paradoxical situation for organizations reliant upon efficient operations.
For the National Research Council of Canada
(NRC), this paradox is of particular concern when attempting to integrate new
vehicle propulsion technologies in the transit industry. With concerns
for carbon emissions becoming a critical issue, it is increasingly important to
transport more commuters with public transit while simultaneously decreasing
the environmental impact of transit operations. With an initial focus on the
electrification of public transit, the NRC tasked Maplesoft with developing a
comprehensive, physics-based model of a battery-electric bus to build upon
their existing capabilities. The NRC now
has an improved, highly configurable model that can better simulate the integration
of battery-electric buses into ongoing operations. The model plays a central role in the Fleet Forward Methodology;
a methodology developed and used by the NRC to de-risk the deployment of
battery-electric buses across Canadian municipalities. By leveraging Maplesoft’s
expertise, the NRC team was able to produce a highly sophisticated model using
leading edge technology that will help inform operators, equipment
manufacturers and regulators, while at the same time improve public transit as
As cities across the world continue to increase in both population and density, public transportation plays a critical role in creating liveable cities by reducing the total number of vehicles operating in urban centers. An effective transit system also has the potential to drastically reduce carbon emissions generated from the transportation of people, resulting in improved urban air quality and sustaining a healthy environment for generations to come.
In order to realize the potential environmental and societal benefits of improved transit, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is determining how to optimize existing transit operations through the implementation of new technologies. Part of their existing research focuses on the analysis of fleet operations using model-driven approaches to transit technology planning. By using physics-based modeling as the core of their analysis methodology, the NRC is able to provide more accurate forecasts of the system-level implications of technology implementations. To improve the flexibility and configurability of their existing modeling tools, the NRC looked to migrate their modeling platform to the modeling and simulations tools developed by Maplesoft.
As an initial step towards capability migration, the NRC’s modeling team worked with Maplesoft’s Engineering Solutions team to create a high-fidelity model of the battery-electric bus dynamics, taking into consideration a wide variety of factors that impact operational decisions. These factors are all necessary to address a range of concerns from transit operators when moving forward with a new type of transit system. For example, transit operators need to know the uptime for an electric bus in comparison to a diesel-powered bus to plan schedules and streamline operations. This requires a detailed understanding of both the charging of bus batteries and determining realistic energy consumption as the bus completes a specific transit route. The operators are also interested in other operating considerations of battery-electric buses such as carbon emission savings, equivalent diesel fuel savings, and the cost of charging the bus during typical usage. The system-level model developed by NRC and Maplesoft helps provide information to address these questions early in the vehicle procurement process.
The battery-electric bus model is composed of a variety of subsystems that are integrated into one unified system for simulation and design exploration. This model was created using MapleSim, Maplesoft’s tool for system-level modeling and simulation. The model incorporates interactions from multiple domains of the electric bus system, such as the vehicle body dynamics, electric motor performance, detailed battery models, and passenger loading details as the bus model travels a specific route (Figure 1). This model was created using both the standard MapleSim physics-based components and customized components, which provided the ability to modify the design to the exact bus and transit specifications. With the completed model, the NRC is able to simulate the entire vehicle system, providing system performance information at any point that the engineer wishes to examine.
With the battery-electric bus model fully developed, the NRC and Maplesoft then worked together to create additional tools that would allow for easy import of a variety of transit routes, as well as tools that could be used to quickly gain insight into the performance of different routes and bus ...
With the battery-electric bus model fully developed, the NRC and Maplesoft then worked together to create additional tools that would allow for easy import of a variety of transit routes, as well as tools that could be used to quickly gain insight into the performance of different routes and bus configurations. The precision of the produced results from these analyses were far superior to techniques employed elsewhere, which would typically only include performance calculations based on average bus speeds and average energy consumption along a certain distance. MapleSim, the advanced system-level modeling software from Maplesoft, creates system-level models in a symbolic, parameterized environment, so adjustments could be made to easily modify the bus, or specific parameters could be optimized for a required performance characteristic. Tyson McWha, the Program Technical Leader at the NRC leading the fleet optimization team, clarifies how the bus model provided flexibility for their evaluation processes: “The primary advantage of using an advanced simulation platform to evaluate battery-electric bus implementation is that we can now adjust specific vehicle or infrastructure parameters and very quickly understand their effects on the entire system.”
By using a model-driven approach, the NRC now has the ability to take a given transit route and electric bus, and have their simulation and analysis tools automatically generate the key information required by transit operators and other decision makers. They are able to determine a specific understanding of the vehicle’s energy storage requirements for particular bus routes, helping to select the correct mix of technologies to meet the specific demands of the route.
The NRC is continuously refining their battery-electric bus model, increasing its capabilities by feeding in real-world performance data and other environmental variables like weather and traffic. The physics-based modeling platform in MapleSim gave them an intuitive tool that is being used effectively by their transit technology experts. Noting the opportunities to improve upon the bus model, McWha commented on the use of system-level modeling within the fleet optimization team: “Migrating our modeling towards the MapleSim platform has increased our researchers’ ability to bring their individual expertise to every facet of the vehicle and infrastructure models. In the end, we have a more user-friendly tool that provides more flexibility and better accuracy.”
The NRC is continuing to research the ideal configuration of battery-electric buses in cities across Canada, and they are using modern design approaches to answer questions with greater accuracy than ever before, allowing transit authorities to make informed decisions. By taking a model-based approach to engineering design, the NRC is helping to bring Canadians zero-emission public transportation that caters to the needs of each individual community.
Contact Maplesoft to learn how MapleSim can help with your projects
Published by Maplesoft, Inc. on 13 Dec 2017
For more information send an inquiry directly to Maplesoft, Inc.
Searching, Exploring and Visualizing Data using Maple
With the ever-expanding sea of available data and data repositories, navigating the vast quantities of information can be a difficult task. Maple, the advanced computing software from Maplesoft, is a powerful, interactive data visualization tool. Maple makes it easy to: searchfilterexplorevisualize dataThis paper presents several examples of how Maple can be used to search and filter large data repositories, explore and visualize the data in innovative ways and use the data to predict future behavior.
Virtual Commissioning with a Model-Driven Digital Twin
In the manufacturing and automation industry, adopting new development techniques has become a key requirement for success in a highly-evolving, competitive market. As demands on product requirements increase, the inherent design risks can pose significant problems, threatening the success and reputation of those trying to keep pace. To mitigate this risk, the technique of virtual commissioning (VC) promises to reduce the significant delays and costs associated with the difficult task of system integration and commissioning. While previously only possible by a few niche experts, powerful modeling tools and compatible information standards have paved the way for modern, accessible virtual commissioning solutions.
Latest MapleSim Release Makes Difficult Modeling Tasks Easier
Maplesoft today announced a major new release of MapleSim, an advanced system-level modeling tool that enables innovation and reduces development risk, allowing engineering organizations to create better products, faster. The latest release provid...24 Oct 2017
Maplesoft Makes Model Based Systems Engineering Accessible to More Engineers with New MapleMBSE
MapleMBSE is a new product from Maplesoft that provides engineers with greater accessibility to model-based systems engineering tools, helping them create, maintain, validate requirements efficiently, with fewer errors29 Aug 2017
Engineer in France Develops Motorcycle Racing Simulator Using MapleSim
Mr. Frédéric Nicolo wanted to develop a motorbike simulator that performed at the same level as current automobile simulators, accommodating the unique features of motorbikes. He started his own venture, developing a simulator using MapleSim that ...22 Jun 2017
Maple 2017 Offers Increased Mathematical Power, Stronger Visualizations and Flexible Deployment Options
Maplesoft today announced a major new release of its flagship product, Maple, the mathematical software that makes it extremely easy to analyze, explore, visualize, and solve math problems. The result of over 30 years of development, Maple already has ...22 Jun 2017
New Connector by Maplesoft and Phoenix Integration Combines Engineering Insight and Efficiency
Maplesoft and Phoenix Integration announced a new plugin that enables engineers to easily incorporate Maplesoft software products Maple and MapleSim into the ModelCenter workflow integration and automation platform from Phoenix Integration. Th...11 May 2017
Designing an Industrial Pick-and-Place Robot
A leading provider of packaging machines was experiencing repeated motor failures with their pick-and-place robots, facing substantial replacement costs on a regular basis. The company chose Maplesoft to develop a high-fidelity parameterized model...11 May 2017
Researchers at the University of Waterloo use MapleSim in New Approach to Tire Modeling
Ideally, a tire model will accurately simulate the dynamics of the system and result in simulations that execute quickly. Unfortunately, existing tire models typically either do not model behavior to a high degree of accuracy, or they are very resource...15 Mar 2017
Maple Drastically Reduces Downtime of Steam Turbines by Improving the Ultrasonic Testing of Rotor Blades
Rotek, the maintenance branch of Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider, is using Maple, the technical computing software from Maplesoft, to design a comprehensive pre-inspection simulation model for use in the ultrasonic inspections of...8 Feb 2017
Maple Helps Hiab Simplify Their Crane Operation
Hiab, a leading provider of load handling equipment, is using Maple to design new ways to lessen the burden on crane operators and maintain safe and precise machine operation. Hiab selected Maple because of its ability to process complex matrix ma...7 Feb 2017
Latest MapleSim Release Improves Engineering Design Productivity
Maplesoft today announced a major new release of MapleSim™, an advanced system-level modeling and simulation platform used by engineers to reduce development time and gain insight into system behavior. The latest release provides tools that increa...6 Feb 2017
MapleSim used to speed up development of high-fidelity robotic manipulator models
ABB's Robotics business unit evaluated MapleSim, the high-performance modeling and simulation platform from Maplesoft, to develop high-fidelity manipulator models that included flexible joints, gears, and dynamic friction, and to determine the ease wit...4 Feb 2016
Maplesoft Engineering Solutions team helps FLSmidth develop revolutionary mining equipment
FLSmidth discovered the advantages of system-level modeling while working with Maplesoft's Engineering Solutions team on the development of a Dual Truck Mobile Sizer (DTMS). The level of design detail and the amount of insight the team gained by using ...4 Feb 2016
New MapleSim Toolbox Enables System-Level Modeling with CAD Designs
Maplesoft recently released the MapleSim CAD Toolbox, a new add-on to MapleSim that allows engineers to understand and improve their mechanical designs by bringing their CAD assemblies into MapleSim, the advanced system-level modeling and simulation p...4 Feb 2016
Modeling the Nao Robot in MapleSim
Engineers at Maplesoft used MapleSim to develop a model of Nao, a 58cm tall humanoid robot created by Aldebaran Robotics. The model simulated the movements of the robot, allowing the engineers to simulate its behavior accurately and teach it to do...10 Jul 2015