UCI Samueli School Becomes Member of U.S. Army Automotive Research Center

UCI becomes the first West Coast member of the U.S. Army’s Automotive Research Center, joining a select group of institutions contributing to a collaborative ecosystem for automotive research.

Nov. 10, 2022 - The UCI Samueli School of Engineering has been selected as an academic research partner in the U.S. Army’s Automotive Research Center (ARC). Led by the University of Michigan, the ARC is a center of excellence for modeling and simulation of ground systems. UCI is one of 12 university members and the only one on the West Coast.

The ARC is the flagship research organization of the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC). With investment from academic, government and industry collaborators, technologies developed by ARC partners over the years have helped make vehicles more affordable, better performing, cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient. Today the ARC is a leading force in the development of the next generation of autonomous vehicles for both military and commercial applications.

“We are excited to be a part of this select group of institutions that contributes to a collaborative ecosystem for automotive research,” said Samueli School Dean Magnus Egerstedt. “The ARC is an excellent fit for our school of engineering, as our faculty are conducing leading research in autonomous systems and control theory.”

UCI engineering faculty are also investigating advanced materials and additive manufacturing, efficient and sustainable power generation, and climate-related extremes posing threats to infrastructure and national security operations. As ARC partners, researchers will have a more direct route to implement their fundamental achievements in support of the U.S. Army.

“We are delighted to welcome the UCI School of Engineering as the newest partner in the ARC,” said Bogdan Epureanu, director of the ARC and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. “The ARC plays a major role in the development of modern transportation systems, and UCI researchers bring excellent expertise to the team.”

The first UCI project to receive funding from the ARC ($118,750) is led by materials science faculty Lorenzo Valdevit and Diran Apelian to develop a new metamaterial for protecting the packaging of critical electronic components in autonomous vehicles. “This starting project will advance our efforts in advanced materials and structures, and exemplifies the convergence of disciplines and integrative thinking that are unique strengths of the ARC,” added Epureanu.

The electronic components in autonomous vehicles are vital to their operation and must be able to withstand impact and severe vibrations. Traditional designs for packaging of electronics use metallic structures for stiffness and strength, elastomeric connections to mitigate vibrations and impacts from peak accelerations, and actively cooled heat sinks to control chip temperature. While these techniques are adequate for common situations, the designs have limitations in aggressive scenarios.

Valdevit and Apelian are exploring an integrated all-metallic lightweight solution to provide mechanical integrity, vibration isolation, impact protection and active cooling of electronic components for autonomous ground vehicles. The proposed system will consist of a highly engineered additively manufactured aluminum metamaterial. “We expect that this system will increase the performance of electronic packages for autonomous ground vehicles while reducing the overall mass and volume of the system,” said Valdevit.

– Lori Brandt