Students Use NI LabVIEW, CompactRIO and PXI to Design Fuel-Efficient Vehicles |

Students Use NI LabVIEW, CompactRIO and PXI to Design Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

April 122005
National Instruments Supports Top Universities Implementing Leading-Edge Research in Challenge X Competition

NEWS RELEASE – April 11, 2005 – Students from top engineering universities are using National Instruments products to reengineer General Motors (GM) vehicles as part of Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility, a new three-year engineering competition that asks students to solve important environmental problems automotive engineers face. Joining major sponsors, including the U.S. Department of Energy and GM, NI supports this competition by providing teams with mentorships and cutting-edge products, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment and NI CompactRIO embedded control system, for vehicle simulation, control design and test.

“By participating in Challenge X, students have an opportunity to work with leading NI products, such as LabVIEW graphical development software and CompactRIO hardware, to perform everything from control design to hardware-in-the-loop testing on their vehicles,” said Dr. Douglas Nelson, mechanical engineering professor at Virginia Tech. “Student teams benefit by implementing the same technologies engineers use in the automotive and defense industries. With the help of National Instruments, they can access an intuitive, flexible platform for performing many of the same design tasks as real-world automotive engineers for this environmentally important research.”

During the competition’s first year, teams representing 17 universities including the University of Texas, Virginia Tech and University of Tennessee focus on using math-based modeling tools for selecting components and designing subsystem control algorithms. Unlike past automotive competitions such as FutureTruck, Challenge X reserves a full year for this design-focused phase. Through the use of NI tools, students can quickly and easily develop rapid control prototyping and hardware-in-the-loop tests to validate their models and control systems and later perform necessary test and measurement applications.

“National Instruments is excited to take part in Challenge X because it is a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to implement actual concepts and technologies,” said Pete Zogas, NI senior vice president of sales and marketing. “NI supports teams throughout the three phases of the competition, including year one, which focuses on modeling and simulation. With a virtual instrumentation approach using NI products, students have the
flexibility to model specific vehicle components such as fuel injectors and engine control units and perform rapid control prototyping of their vehicles’ control algorithms.”

Engineers in the automotive industry incorporate high-performance NI products, such as LabVIEW software and PXI data acquisition hardware, to create unique test systems for designing, simulating and testing their innovations. Because these tools are modular, engineers can complete their systems with NI hardware components such as CompactRIO embedded control systems or Compact FieldPoint distributed I/O for rapid control prototyping and hardware-in-the-loop, design validation and manufacturing test. Automotive manufacturers such as Honda, Chrysler, Saab and Volvo use NI products for applications ranging from developing control systems to building road simulators and automating functionality tests.

In June, NI and other sponsors will present the first-year awards as teams gather to introduce their research and designs at a GM facility. For more information about participating universities and the Challenge X competition, readers can visit To learn about other NI academic initiatives or product discounts for qualifying institutions, readers can visit

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists in industry, government and academia approach measurement and automation. Leveraging PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for test, control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software, such as NI LabVIEW, and modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, USB and Ethernet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,400 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. In 2004, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in 90 countries. For the past six years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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