E bike design software. Delfast decided to give up on physical iterations because…

Feedback Interaction

Practical hands-on activities and video Lectures with interactive portal/forum for discussion among students. Prompt feedback to every slight curiosity and query by instructor/trainer are part of this course.

bike, design, software, delfast, decided, give

Unit.1 (Introduction to Automobiles Electric Vehicle Development)

  • Introduction to Automobiles
  • Present Scenario and Demand of Automotive Sector
  • Introduction of Electric Motorbike.
  • Application: Commercial, Personal and Public Transport.
  • Indian Automotive Sector
  • Introduction to Various subsystems of Electric Bike i.e. Chassis, Transmission, Braking, Suspension and Bodyworks.
  • Different Type of Welding and Cutting Process
  • Automotive Electrical Electronics Unit

Unit – 2 (Vehicle Dynamics, Designing and Analysis)

  • Vehicle Dynamics : Suspension System design by Using Software(Lotus)
  • Suspension coordinate by Manual Method
  • Material Selection for Chassis
  • Introduction to Designing Software i.e. Solid Works, Catia etc.
  • 2D and 3DSketching
  • Part Design and Design Consideration
  • Weldments : Design of Chassis for Electric Shuttle
  • Analysis (Static Dynamic)

Unit – 3 (Power Train Electrical System)

  • Brake System and calculation
  • Transmission : Motor Selection and Calculation
  • Electrical Control System
  • Energy Storage System: Capacitor, Li-ion Battery Pack Led acid Battery Pack
  • Obtaining Notches From The Chassis Designed In Solid Works.
  • Explaining Different Tolerance To Be Given During Manufacturing.
  • Ergonomics Consideration While Manufacturing Chassis.

Unit.4 (Modification of Chassis)

  • Safety Instruction Appeals
  • Introduction To Manufacturing Process: Measurement Technique, Efficient Cutting Methods, Welding and Cutting techniques and practice.
  • Mounting of Jigs and Fixtures.

Unit.5 (Assembly of Systems i.e. Wheel Assembly, Suspension and Brake)

  • Front and Rear Suspension: Manufacturing of Mounting Plates Casing
  • Wheel Assembly: Mounting point for damper, Wheel Hub, Knuckle and Complete Assembly of Wheel with Damper and Suspension.

Unit.6 (Power Train, Electrical Electronics)

  • Motor Controller: Connection of Motor and Controller, testing connecting though battery.
  • Mounting Point Manufacturing for: Battery, Controller, Head and Tell Light, Brake Light, Battery Etc.
  • Battery Casing fabrication and mounting.
  • Wiring, Insulation and other electrical connections.
  • Working on sensors, RPM Meter, Installation of Sensors, battery, Motor and Controller.
  • Installation of Safety Switches, Battery Level Indicator, Brake Switch, Lights and Kill Switches.

Ellio Develops Two-Wheel Drive E-Bike with Simulink and Model-Based Design

“The ability to rapidly iterate on the design using Simulink was a big advantage for us. We could change parameter values as someone was riding, have them tell us if the change improved the responsiveness of the bike, and then generate plots to see the parameter values that produce a good feel on the bike.”

Jorrit Heidbuchel, Ellio

Ellio two-wheel drive e-bike.

Although sales of electric bicycles (e-bikes) have grown steadily for the past several years, everyday commuters have yet to widely embrace e-bikes as a practical alternative to the automobile. Many e-bikes are designed for experienced cyclists skilled at the nuances of riding, such as keeping their eyes on the road while shifting gears. Few are designed for the less experienced riders who make up the mass market.

At Ellio, a start-up headquartered in Belgium, engineers have created a two-wheel drive e-bike with an automatic gear system that makes it easy for riders of all abilities to precisely control their speed. To accelerate the development of the e-bike, Ellio engineers used Model-Based Design with MATLAB ® and Simulink ® to model and simulate the e-bike’s control software and its innovative drivetrain design, which was based on drivetrains found in hybrid automobiles.

“For us, the greatest benefit of Model-Based Design is that we never have to do anything twice,” says Jorrit Heidbuchel, cofounder of Ellio. “Because we can simulate the complete drivetrain and controller in Simulink, we are able to go from a model to a working prototype in a single day. The prototype worked the first time, and although we continue to improve the controller, we’ve needed no major design iterations.”

Challenge

Among the most significant challenges the engineers faced in designing the fully automatic drivetrain was implementing an impedance control system that accounts for—and responds to—the force that the cyclist applies to the e-bike’s pedals. The engineers recognized that while it would be possible to model the steady-state behavior of the drivetrain, a qualitative assessment of how shifting, braking, and acceleration would feel to a cyclist is difficult to obtain from simulation. Because such an assessment would be most effective on the e-bike itself, the engineers wanted to develop an initial prototype quickly and then adjust control parameters on the fly while the e-bike was in operation.

Another factor driving the need for Rapid development was the company’s entry into the market as a startup. With a small team and limited seed funding, the company wanted to have a first prototype ready to show investors in six months. Because lengthy delays or significant redesigns put the entire effort at risk, the team wanted to have a clear path—with minimal manual coding—from the model they used for design verification to production deployment.

Solution

Working in Simulink, Ellio engineers developed models of the e-bike’s drivetrain, the e-bike controller, and a human cyclist.

Built with Simscape™, the drivetrain model was based on work that Heidbuchel had completed for his master’s thesis. It included planetary gear and chain drive blocks from Simscape Driveline™ as well as electric motor blocks from Simscape Electrical™.

The team used a MATLAB Function block to model the load on the e-bike due to aerodynamic resistance and the slope of the road.

They used a combination of Simulink blocks and MATLAB code to implement the impedance control algorithm, which generates target torque values for the motors based on rotation rates and measured torque values from the drivetrain model.

The engineers ran closed-loop simulations with a system model that included the controller, cyclist, and drivetrain models. They used these simulations to evaluate different gear ratios and tune control parameters to improve performance.

After they had validated the controller design via simulation, the team used Simulink Coder™ to generate code from the controller model. To create the e-bike’s first controller prototype, they compiled and deployed this code on a Raspberry Pi™ processor, which communicates with the electric motors via an SPI interface.

They continued to improve controller performance by conducting test rides with this prototype and iteratively adjusting control parameters in Simulink based on how the e-bike felt and responded to the rider.

The control software, built using code generated from the Simulink controller model, is now running on Ellio e-bikes currently in production.

“Do it yourself”

When trying to source electric bikes for their couriers, Delfast faced a problem. The performance characteristics claimed by manufacturers did not always match reality. Bikes operating on lead-acid batteries had a range of 25-30 kilometers on one charge, instead of the claimed 80. The bikes also broke easily, with frames the most fragile part. Instead of fighting with the suppliers, Delfast decided to design their own bike frames, fixing all of the major bugs. In the process, Delfast designers created not only frames, but a whole new model of electric bicycle, which significantly outperformed all others on the market. Even in its first iteration, the bike achieved stable speeds of 45 km/hr and a 120 km range on one battery charge. The model immediately became a customers’ favorite and over the following years, Delfast received many purchase requests, thus giving birth to Delfast’s venture to produce their own electric bicycles.

“An electric bicycle is basically a computer on wheels. This type of transport perfectly fits into the modern digital economy infrastructure.”

— Sergey Goncharov. Process engineer, Delfast

Electric bicycle. Photo courtesy of Delfast.

Creating the prototype

“Millions of vehicles carry millions of liters of gas ‘just in case.’ Electric transport is more like ‘a battery unto itself’ – the movement of electrons drives the movement of the engine,” says Sergey Goncharov. “Routes and speeds are easily programmed and can be 100% controlled by any digital network. The controller software is the most complicated part of the manufacturing process for an electric bike. It determines how ‘Smart’ this ‘smartphone on wheels’ will really be”.

To create the prototype, Delfast established its own design team and recruited the best electrical engineers. At first they worked in SolidWorks but very quickly transitioned to Autodesk Fusion 360. This is because it was necessary to simultaneously work on multiple tasks in a single virtual environment. One set of specialists would create wiring diagrams, another set handled controllers, the third set worked on the electric motor, while a fourth set calculated how the electric components would affect the suspension, and so on. “SolidWorks has features that can solve these problems,” says Sergey Goncharov. “But its toolbox is excessive, more suitable for mass production and large design teams. Autodesk Fusion 360 is just right for us. It’s easy to get grips with, allowing us to concentrate almost all model creation circles in one window.”

Since 2019, Delfast has embedded its RD process in Autodesk Fusion 360, developing six iterations of electric bicycles through the end of 2020.

Working in Cloud

Delfast’s bike design team is spread out over a wide geography, including former aerospace engineers in Ukraine, and electronic controller specialists and guest industrial designers based in Germany. Autodesk Fusion 360 provides a shared Cloud environment for the whole group to collaborate in. Specialists in Germany create models which designers in Kiev can then modify online or offline via browser Windows in desktop mode.

With the help of Autodesk Fusion 360, Delfast was able to virtually eliminate the prototyping stage from its RD process. Previously, sourcing and creating parts took a lot of time. During tests, parts often broke or burnt out. Now, each part can be designed and tested in a virtual space, and be 3D-printed if needed. In this way, matrix molds can be designed and then immediately transferred to the milling machine to be сut in foam, MDF or other material.

Fusion 360 makes preparation for 3D-printing quick and easy. For example, a small design change to a plastic part can be done in around four hours. At 2 pm, specialists set up the parameters in the program, and by 6 pm the 3D-printed part is ready. Early the next morning, specialists mount the part on the electric bicycle and it’s ready to function.

Delfast uses 3D-printing for more than just designing prototypes. In the near future, they plan to set up small production lines for plastic bike parts. This will be cheaper than milling them or ordering from third-party manufacturers.

A smarter e-bike?

Every e-bike I’ve tested has come with a clamped-on LCD screen for displaying information like bike speed and battery charge level. The Carbon’s screen is an array of LED dots, and it’s integrated into the handlebars. The dots are spaced so widely that, despite its size, the display has the lowest resolution of anything I’ve seen on a bike. That said, it’s fine for speed and battery level, and Urtopia has managed to do some pretty clever things with it, in part by including some reasonable processing power on the bike.

When turning on the Carbon for the first time, the screen displays a QR code that lets Urtopia’s phone app mediate secure Bluetooth pairing. The next step is using the app to configure the power button, which also serves as a thumbprint reader—a setup that should make the bike somewhat less prone to theft, should anyone realize its function before trying to pedal off. The app also managed the process of getting the bike onto my Wi-Fi network to do a firmware upgrade.

Another interesting feature is voice recognition. Hold down the power button for a few seconds and you can give the bike a voice command. While I haven’t found a full list of commands, they include toggling the lights, turning the bike on and off, and putting it into sleep mode. Some of these functions can also be achieved with the right combination of button presses, but if you can’t remember what the necessary combination is, voice commands are a convenient backup.

bike, design, software, delfast, decided, give

One of the more sophisticated features is triggered by using the directional signals, at which point a proximity sensor checks for any object that is behind you in the direction you’ll be turning. That’s a great safety feature, although, in my testing, it mostly picked up parked cars during right turns. One amusing aspect: When it detects something, a voice alert suggests that you pay attention to the behind. (The company tells me the detection is a bit too sensitive, so an update to the phone app now allows you to disable the feature until a firmware adjustment is available.)

When not speaking, the bike provides haptic feedback, vibrating the handlebars to let you know it has recognized your actions, whether they’re button presses or voice commands.

All of this takes the bike in the direction of portable electronics, though Urtopia still has some work to do to smooth out the rough edges. Its phone app has preferences for both the app itself and the on-bike display, but it doesn’t clearly distinguish between the two. I discovered this when I realized that the bike defaulted to displaying stats in kilometers per hour. Switching to miles, which I have a better intuitive grasp of, actually caused the number representing the speed to go up instead of down, leading me to wonder what units the Carbon was using instead of miles.

The firmware update fixed this issue, and later updates tweaked other aspects of the bike’s behavior. (One even added a game that could be played on the bike’s display, although I didn’t test it.) Meanwhile, updates to the smartphone app added the ability to look at every ride you’ve taken, tracked by the bike’s on-board GPS—Urtopia touts this feature as providing anti-theft utility, especially when coupled with the ability to use your phone to play alert sounds on the bike.

One downside is that many of the most sophisticated features require that the bike’s onboard cellular SIM be active, something that costs 29 per year.

The ride

What happens when a hill is steep enough that the bike lacks the torque to maintain its speed? Eventually, it will slow to the point where you have to pedal to maintain speed. And if you can’t exert enough force to keep it at speed—something that’s more likely on single-gear bikes—it will continue to slow. Eventually, it will reach the point where it no longer registers you as pedaling, and it will stop offering any assist whatsoever. At this point, your options are turning around or walking the bike.

I’m not a fan of single-gear pedaling, especially on bikes that are somewhat small for me, and the Carbon was no exception. That said, the gearing was in a decent zone; it was easy to get the bike started, and it can be pedaled at a reasonable speed even with the electrical assist off. I wouldn’t want to do a long ride with a dead battery, but I could definitely manage if the bike ran out of charge within a few miles of my home, as long as any hills could be avoided. The bike’s light weight helps here.

With the electric assist on, the bike is excellent; it’s easy to get to its maximum speed and keep it there at the top level of assist. When set at the lowest level, you’ll have to do a bit of work to move at high speeds. The bike had enough torque to easily power through gradual slopes or short hills. As such, it mostly avoided what I’d call uphill death spirals.

As mentioned above, the frame is solid, and the tires aren’t as fat as we’ve seen on some other e-bikes, so the ride can be a bit bumpy. The tires did, however, handle a section of gravel trail with ease.

Who’s this for?

The Carbon requires a fair bit of assembly, more so than some other e-bikes. You should either be comfortable with that or factor in the cost of some time in a bike shop to the purchase price. In a nice touch, Urtopia included all the tools needed in a bag designed to strap into the frame, providing you with some on-bike storage after the bike is assembled. Oddly, however, some basic things like a kickstand cost extra, though frequent sale specials often include such accessories.

bike, design, software, delfast, decided, give

Viewed strictly as a single-gear e-bike, the Urtopia Carbon is the best I’ve ridden. It may not have the range of some other e-bikes, but its light weight and decent gearing makes it reasonable to contemplate finishing rides without the electric assist. That weight also makes it a good choice for people who have to carry the bike up stairs to store it or those who want to use it with a car rack.

All that said, it’s certainly possible to find lightweight e-bikes that cost a lot less than the 5000,800 that Urtopia asks for the Carbon. That means the software needs to be a big selling point to make up for that difference. And I’d say the experience is mixed.

There were some ideas that were clearly brilliant, like the QR code that displayed when the bike was first turned on. Others felt more like a work in progress. The voice commands were handy, but I mostly used them when I couldn’t remember the right button combination to accomplish the same thing—and talking to my bike in public felt weird.

At the moment, I’d say the software doesn’t offer enough to be a big selling point. But both the app and the firmware received at least two updates in the time I had the bike, so the features may have changed by the time you read this.

If all you’re looking for out of an e-bike is a somewhat easier ride, software will never be worth it. But I started reviewing these things because I was fascinated with how technology created and diversified an entirely new product category. I’m naturally prone to value good e-bike software, if for no other reason than it feeds that fascination.

In the end, some of the ideas here left me excited about the potential of e-bikes. Imagine a bike that keeps track of how much force you exert on a ride and integrates with your fitness tracker. Or one that checks your location and matches its level of assist to local regulations.

For now, though, Urtopia is just offering a good e-bike experience with some hints at that potential future.

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