Driving Experience

[Photo: BMW i3 Driving Experience]

Automobiles inspire and evoke emotions. The way an automobile moves, how one experiences the dynamic nature behind the wheel and the driving pleasure - that is the driving experience - is the definitive characteristic that awakens our enthusiasm and passion about cars. Despite all rational thinking, characteristics such as power, safety, and energy efficiency are just not enough to create the deep relationship we as people experience with our automobiles. The focus then lies on classical aspects such as driving dynamics as well as bringing NVH performance into the foreground. The way the driver and vehicle interact is the most important aspect for the entire driving experience. For this reason it is necessary, to better understand the driver, to optimise the system functionally, energetically, and architecturally so that the driving experience will still be crisp and exciting even in the future.

The driving dynamics of an automobile quite decisively shapes the driving experience and driving pleasure. The objective of driving dynamics is to achieve predictable and stable handling behaviour all the way up to the vehicle’s limits. In order to achieve a dynamic experience for the driver, the vehicle needs to be reliable and predictable in every driving situation and consequently bring the joy of driving the vehicle in the foreground. This is why we develop and test chassis systems on all major test tracks and support this process with driving dynamic simulations. In doing so the suspension is tuned and adjusted so that the tyres can utilize their maximum potential grip. Since the tyre is the core factor of driving dynamics, we are also conducting research in the field of tyre technology, mainly focusing on measurement, benchmarking, simulation, and sensor technology.

An additional dimension of the total driving experience is comfort. An automobile is truly fascinating when even in comfort mode it has impressive dynamic driving capabilities. The conflict of objectives between dynamic driving and comfort can be almost entirely avoided by utilizing intelligent suspension components. Active anti-roll bars, adaptive dampers and active spring systems lead to better ride quality, while simultaneously increasing the dynamic possibilities of the automobile.

The driving experience is not just a matter of lateral dynamics and comfort but the way our senses also interact with the vehicle. High frequency excitations play a large role in how the driver experiences the road and vehicle interacting. Here we are utilizing a wide range of measuring equipment and test rigs to provide targeted analysis. With the use of simulation tools, we are thinking up solutions that bring the driving experience for the customer to the next level and go above and beyond what is required. Especially the steering and its characteristics are in the spotlight as they are the only thing that directly connects the driver to the wheels in motion. Therefore the system has a great influence on the driving experience, not only as a way of control, but also quite literally as an extension of our fingertips to sense the road surface.


Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika)
RWTH Aachen University

Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany

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+49 241 80 25600
+49 241 80 22147