IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all


For improvements to the modelling of the impact of sand and water on vehicles, enabling earlier identification of design improvements.

Jaguar Land Rover’s all-terrain vehicles are expected to be able to wade through deep water and drive through deserts and sand dunes. However, this provides a substantial engineering challenge: both sand and water will damage vital components of the vehicle if they come into contact with them and are also very difficult to keep out of the vehicle.

The conventional approach to this problem involved developing physical prototypes and conducting physical tests of impact with sand and water - costing more than £250,000 per test. This approach is also very time consuming, since if a component fails the vehicle needs to be redesigned so that the test can be repeated. Jaguar Land Rover have developed state-of-the-art virtual engineering tools to model and test these scenarios without the need for physical prototypes.

The challenge was to model the physics of sand and water media upon impact with a vehicle. The optimum model uses smoothed-particle hydrodynamics, however, this approach required too much computing power, so Jaguar Land Rover combined this approach with the finite element method to develop a unique and successful approach.

The project has to date saved approximately £9m through avoiding the necessity of physical tests. It has also enabled optimisation of the weight of certain components and fixings, saving 35–80% of the weight of these components, which translates to a saving of up to 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from tailpipe emissions.

The company

Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s largest automotive manufacturer, built around two iconic British car brands: Land Rover, the world’s leading manufacturer of premium all-wheel-drive vehicles, and Jaguar, one of the world’s premier luxury sports saloon and sports car marques.

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