Autodesk Software Helps Develop 100 MPG Commuter Vehicle

Green Lite Motors, a clean technology company developing new transportation alternatives for commuters, is using Autodesk Product Design Suite from Autodesk, to more efficiently design a three-wheeled hybrid vehicle capable of traveling 100 miles on a single gallon of gas, as well as achieving highway-ready speeds of 85 miles per hour and a cruising range of 250 miles.

Green Lite Motors is using Autodesk software to more efficiently design a three-wheeled hybrid vehicle (Photo: Business Wire)

Although classified as a motorcycle, the vehicle is fully enclosed like a car, giving commuters a safer, more comfortable and environmentally friendly way to get to work. The vehicle can carry two passengers using a hybrid gas engine and electric motor, which supports long-range freeway cruising, as well as enhanced fuel efficiency in stop-and-go traffic. For safety, driver and passenger are protected by a steel roll cage, four-point safety harnesses, seat backs and front airbags. The vehicle’s comfort features also include heat, air conditioning and a sound system.

The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program — which provides software for emerging clean tech companies in North America, Europe and Japan — enabled Green Lite Motors to use Digital Prototyping with Autodesk Product Design Suite. Autodesk Inventor software, included in Product Design Suite, was used to create digital prototypes of the third and fourth generations of the vehicle.

Digital Prototyping Accelerates Vehicle Development

“The Autodesk Product Design Suite has helped Green Lite Motors build the machine virtually to present an exceptionally strong vision of both the mechanical and aesthetic designs of our vehicle,” says Tim Miller, president and CEO at Green Lite Motors. “In leveraging the capabilities of Digital Prototyping, within a few weeks we were able to collaborate with a shared Inventor model to create a design capable of being manufactured.”

Green Lite Motors also leverages its digital prototype from Inventor with Autodesk Showcase software another product included in Product Design Suite, to create compelling animations and renderings to visually communicate the mechanical and aesthetic designs of its vehicle — helping the company more effectively share its vision of greener transportation with potential investors and partners.

“Green Lite Motors is developing a unique hybrid vehicle to minimize driving’s environmental impact, and Digital Prototyping is helping them do it more quickly and with less waste,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. “From concept to manufacture, and marketing to maintenance, Autodesk software helps bring clean technology products to market sooner.”

About the Clean Tech Partner Program

The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program supports the efforts, innovations and environmental advancements of clean technology pioneers, providing world-class software to design, visualize and simulate their ideas through Digital Prototyping. Clean tech companies in North America, Europe and Japan are invited to apply to receive up to $150,000 worth of software for only $50. Access to a collection of Autodesk industry-leading software includes up to five licenses of Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate, AutoCAD Revit Architecture Suite, Autodesk Simulation Mechanical, Autodesk Inventor Publisher and Autodesk Vault Professional software. For additional information, visit www.autodesk.com/cleantech.

About Green Lite Motors

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Green Lite Motors Corporation is developing a breakthrough vehicle that addresses the fuel efficiency, traffic congestions and parking challenges faced by drivers in large metropolitan areas. For additional information, visit w ww.greenlitemotors.com.

 

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

This vehicle in development really caught our attention, and we contacted Green Lite Motors President and CEO, Tim Miller, directly for some additional comments on this unique vehicle concept.

When asked what first prompted the concept, Miller said it was actually several things. He’s personally had an interest in more efficient transportation systems since he was a kid. His startup, Green Lite Motors, carries his early interest to a new level and is focused on a clean/green transportation system as what hopes will be a better way for commuters to get around metropolitan areas.

Although it doesn’t have an official name yet, the vehicle is classified as a motorcycle because it has the handling characteristics of a motorcycle, but safer. Looking more like a car, the vehicle has two forward wheels and one rear wheel, and leans, steers, and is suspended in the front – much like a responsive motorcycle.

The design process for the vehicle has been ongoing since 2006 and beyond Miller, the development team currently consists of a staff that includes a CAD modeler, mechanical engineer, industrial designer, fabrication/prototyping engineer, electrical engineer, and a battery engineer.

Interestingly, and not too surprisingly, designs were originally created in the physical world and converted/translated to digital. For digital prototyping, his group is currently using Autodesk Inventor, Alias for industrial design, and Showcase for presentations and collaboration. Miller said in the near future his team will use Autodesk simulation, as well as sustainability tools for choosing materials and manufacturing processes.

At this time, the target customer is a commuter in a metropolitan area between 28-48 years of age; primarily male, but also a possible strong female potential customer base, as well.

The vehicle is currently in its third physical generation and iteration. The company is striving to use as many commercial off the shelf (COTS) components as possible, including an engine and drivetrain from Suzuki, and electric motors and controllers from Hi Performance Electric Vehicle Systems. Miller said that production of the vehicle will be performed by a contract manufacturer. Overall, he was quite positively insistent that the vehicle will make it to the marketplace.

Although he wouldn’t commit to a production time frame, Miller did say that Green Lite Motors’ vehicles will be sold through an existing network of dealers who currently sell other types of vehicles. Talking with Miller provided me with a takeaway feeling that he has thought through the entire process, from concept to market, quite thoroughly. It will be interesting to watch this concept become a reality as testament to a startup using digital tools to innovate and succeed in today’s tough economy.

 

Editor’s Note: Hardware Review: HP Z210 Workstation Follow-Up
In the last issue of MCADCafe Weekly, we briefly reviewed the HP Z210 workstation.

After the review was published, HP followed up with a few points of clarification that the technical team brought to my attention.

The first is regarding the cooling fans. I expressed concern with potential heat issues. There are actually at least three fans in every system: power supply, CPU, and system fans. Additionally, some graphics cards have fans, and HP has an optional front fan available, as well. According to the company, “HP’s rigorous thermal design was created to deliver a 5-year service life working under heavy load, and warranted for 3-years, over the full specified range of ambient temperatures and elevation, and including fully configured systems – all while delivering industry-leading acoustics. HP tests to ensure fully configured systems have thermal margin for worse case operating conditions, including an additional PCIe card at 20W. Additionally, for more demanding add-in card configurations, the Z210 CMT chassis is able to support an optional front fan. If a customer needs to use a special customized card which requires additional cooling, we can provide the front fan and have it installed in the chassis.” OK, with the fan issue clarified, I’ll retract the potential cooling issue.

Second, HP wanted to point out that the workstation units that it sent out for this review are part of its Early Evaluation Program, and such systems are intended for early customer evaluation as well as reviewer evaluation primarily on the basis of technical performance, benchmarking, and software compatibility and testing. HP stated, “While industrial design and aesthetics are a very important part of our workstation design, such Early Evaluation systems are not of the final production build quality, and may have some relatively minor differences as compared to the final production systems. In particular, these units used pre-production cables that were not of the final, production-quality length, topology or color.” That said, in the future, I will only review production quality, customer shipping level machines. For years, I’ve had a strict policy to review only production-level MCAD software, and will carry this over to hardware, as well.

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