A structural investigation to develop guidelines for the finite element analysis of the Mini-Baja vehicle
Mini-Baja is a special type of vehicle used for recreational and exploration purposes. In many aspects it is similar to an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) except that it is much smaller in size. An international competition is organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for universities throughout the world to design and fabricate their vehicles and then compete against each other. The objective of the present research was to carry out finite element analysis and crash simulations for a Mini-Baja chassis structure. The aim of this task was to write a comprehensive finite element guide for a Mini-Baja SAE vehicle that had already been built by students at the University of Windsor for the year 2010 Baja competition in Rochester New York. Initially, an example of a Z-frame is explained and evaluated by simple hand calculations. Subsequently, the preliminary design of the Mini-Baja roll cage was generated using CAD data. To study the effects of stress and deformation on the frame members, linear static analysis followed by transient modal superposition analysis was carried out as the first steps toward this project. The static analysis in this thesis was used to arrive at an acceptable mesh size for the Mini-Baja roll cage dynamic analysis. Additionally, the more realistic frontal impact analysis was performed on the Mini-Baja vehicle at a cruise velocity of 48 km/h (30 mph). Different FEA commercial packages were used throughout the project and results obtained from Abaqus/CAE and LS-DYNA were compared with one another. Furthermore, crash test simulations for side impact and vehicle-to-vehicle crash scenarios were also performed for the Mini-Baja frame to evaluate the structural rigidity and vehicle behaviour due to crash.