Department of Vehicle and Mechanical Engineering Laboratories

Energy Domain: Vehicle Engine Laboratory

We conduct research on lubrication and cooling properties, with a view to improving the fuel efficiency of engines. Our other research work includes developing supermileage vehicles and improving the power-generation performance of small polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.

Energy Domain: Aeronautical Engineering Laboratory

As science and technology progress, so does the demand for ever-faster vehicles. On the front lines of this trend are aircraft and spacecraft. We work on numerical analysis of the flow surrounding arbitrarily shaped projectiles, such as supersonic speed rockets. We also seek to elucidate the explosive combustion mechanism inside propulsion engines, using computer simulations and experimental methods.

Fluid Domain: Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

The flow around a vehicle, such as an automobile or aircraft, transitions from laminar to turbulent with an increase in the vehicle's speed. Generally speaking, turbulent flows result in greater drag and noise and thus a decrease in the vehicle’s performance. There are instances, however, where turbulence causes the exact opposite. Clearly, there are still many aspects of turbulent flow that need to be elucidated. In an effort to improve the aerodynamic performance of vehicles, we conduct research on laminar-turbulent transitions and methods of controlling flows.

Fluid Domain: Railway Engineering Laboratory

Today, high-speed railways are popular in many parts of the world. Current trains can exceed 300 km/hour, and plans are afoot to make even faster trains. Railways have unique characteristics that distinguish them from air and road transport. Vehicles are narrow and long; they run on bi-directional tracks; they pass each other at close range; and they run inside tunnels (where the cross-sectional area of a train is large in relation to that of a tunnel). When attempting to increase the speed of railway trains, it is crucial to solve the unique challenges they pose with respect to fluid dynamics. We conduct research on a range of such high-speed rail issues through various experiments and numerical simulations.

Fluid Domain: Computational Mechanics Laboratory

Simulation based on computational mechanics is used in the development of aircraft and automobiles in a process called simulation-based design (SBD). Engineering problems involve interactions among multiple physical phenomena (multiphysics). Such interactions pose a challenge to researchers and engineers. Our goal is to offer a design tool that engineers can use to simulate and verify the full behavioral scope of products in use.

Material/Structure Domain: Material Processing Laboratory

We create new ceramic materials and analyze them at the nano level. These materials are key to vehicle devices used in ITS, sensing, and other systems that support transportation.

Material/Structure Domain: Mechanics of Materials Laboratory

Our primary focus is on researching the strength, rigidity, and stability of materials and structures used in transportation machines. We consider it particularly important to study the behavior of materials and structures when they are subjected to dynamic loads. For this reason, we maintain a full suite of dynamic testing equipment and we perform research on the strain-rate dependence of materials.

Material/Structure Domain: Structural Dynamics Laboratory

All structural objects need to be lightweight and strong. This is true not only for transportation machines such as automobiles, aircraft, rockets, railway vehicles, and marine vessels, but also for bridges, architectural constructions, and even mobile phones. To facilitate the design of such structural objects, we develop and work to establish structural analysis technology with the required high levels of reliability and precision.

Human Interface Domain: Automobile Engineering Laboratory

At our laboratory, the focus is on the human interface. Our study encompasses the motion of automobiles, the driving environment, the transmission of information from automobiles to humans, and the way that such information underlies the driving mechanism. Based on our research, we propose vehicle design guidelines and ways to use automobiles more effectively.

Human Interface Domain: Man-Machine Systems Laboratory

ITS (intelligent transport systems) use information, communications, and control technologies to fully or partially automate automobile driving, with a view to making automobiles safer, more comfortable, and more environmentally friendly. It is important to know how this new driving technology will affect drivers. To this end, we perform research on the human factors of ITS driver assist systems. We also study optimal avoidance methods for ITS automatic collision-avoidance systems and we develop simulated driver models and driver assist systems.

Human Interface Domain: Vehicle Control Laboratory

Here, we study vehicle control for aircraft and automobiles. For aircraft, we conduct research on flight handling to improve flying stability and maneuverability. We also analyze automated landing of aircraft. In verifying our flight-handling research, we make full use of flight simulators, which allow real-time flight simulations and the recording of flight data. For automobiles, we research unmanned vehicle driving and guidance control, with the goal of applying our findings to ITS driver-assistance systems. We also study machine-control technology—which is common to both automobiles and aircraft—as a way to improve the motion performance of vehicles.