Before hitting the track for the test sessions preceding its homologation, the Peugeot 9X8 hybrid Hypercar was first of all a digital project of 51.1 gigabytes and 15,267 files contained on a hard disk.
Digital technology has opened up the field of possibilities in the field of motorsport. It allowed Peugeot Sport engineers to imagine a concept for the Hypercar 9X8 without a really disruptive rear wing, totally different from that of its competitors, and to validate it well before having produced the slightest part.
Thus, digital today allows for in-depth technical explorations, while achieving substantial savings in time, money and resources. Long before it made its first laps, the Hypercar Peugeot 9X8 therefore first had a purely virtual existence. For two years, the Peugeot Sport teams worked on its modelling, relying both on existing software, which they sometimes adapted to the specifics of the project, and on computer programs entirely developed in-house, from a white sheet. “One of our strengths is being able to create the tools ourselves that shape the technical design of the parts we need,” says François Coudrain, Powertrain Director of Peugeot Sport’s WEC program.
Digital at the service of inventiveness
Several dozen people took part in the Peugeot 9X8 digital project. Computer geniuses, “performance engineers” and racing engineers, all gathered around a single goal: to reach the heights of Endurance. To achieve the best result, the world of engineering always respects the same routine:
• A very thorough reading of the regulations allows you to clearly understand what is allowed or not and above all, to begin to imagine what is possible.
• Establishment of specifications: this involves formalizing the needs and performance objectives to be achieved in the context of the regulations. This is then detailed in several interconnected specifications.
• The architectural hypotheses: based on the general specifications, the engineers in charge of creating the car imagine different concepts. This is where the inventiveness of the Peugeot Sport engineers and the PEUGEOT Style designers, associated from the start with the creation of the 9X8, is most evident. Indeed, whatever its performance, digital cannot replace creation, and a program such as that of 9×8 is above all a great human adventure. The most promising concepts are digitized, and the respective performances of these digital candidates are then evaluated to finally retain only one.
• CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulation: more particularly used in the aerodynamic field, CFD simulation acts in reference to the flow of fluids, and by taking into account physical or chemical phenomena, such as turbulence and thermal excitation. .
“Thanks to all of our software, we can consider all kinds of dimensions, shapes, materials, work on the weight according to the technical regulations…”explains François Coudrain. “As with the choice of the basic concept, this purely digital work on systems or parts allows us to test a large number of solutions, something impossible to achieve with physical parts. Before hitting the track, our Hypercar was first a project contained in a hard drive for a very long time. Each of his 15,267 files represented one of his plays! With one particularity: thanks to digital technology, to our simulation power which also allows us to evaluate the interactions between the parts and the different systems, we knew in advance the theoretical performance of the entire car. The work of physical validation does not start until very late, with the car and on the circuit ».
Jean-Marc FINOT, director of Stellantis Motorsport, concludes: “Artificial intelligence is an essential tool for processing the millions of data contained in a racing car. Our “big data” processing applications make it possible to simulate a large number of hypotheses, if necessary to adapt the design of the parts, until they converge on the target value. It is only after having defined the characteristics and having simulated their performance in different universes, through a fully modeled car, that we start manufacturing the parts.”.
From cable section to drone motor
Some data do not require any particular research on the nature of the materials, the shape or the number of parts. For example, the hull is still in carbon, the engine in aluminium, and the wheels four in number… But digital technology makes it possible to work on the sizing and the simulation of the behavior of essential constituent elements.
For example, while the Peugeot 9X8 benefits from a triple electrical architecture (900V battery, 48V and 12V components), digital technology has made it possible to understand its electromagnetic environment and to work on the optimal sizing of electrical harnesses. It was necessary to develop the intimate association between the physical parts and the software part to avoid interference as much as possible. An important issue, which could only be dealt with with the help of digital technology. In this way, it has been established that it is preferable to use electrical harnesses with a smaller section in 48V than in 12V, which also represents a saving in space and weight, in addition to improving compatibility. between the harnesses and the computers.
Other parts, chosen from the Stellantis Sport shelf or taken from “consumer” technology products, are sometimes very suitable without needing to be modified. Rigorous ingenuity! For example, some 48V motors in the 9X8 come directly from drones. Of course, their effectiveness in the device was simulated and validated using dedicated software, but they did not require any structural modification.
Numerical simulations also make it possible to adapt choices such as, for example, that concerning the material around the exhaust outlets. In this place the heat is very high, and the simulations made it possible to understand that the carbon of the bodywork had to be protected or replaced either by aluminum or by titanium. A point of attention identified from the specifications, confirmed by simulations, then during the first tests on the track.
At the end of its digital development, the hard disk which contained all the technical data of the Peugeot 9X8 gave birth to a scale model 1, intended for the wind tunnel, then to a real dedicated racing car, as to her, to on-track development.
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Peugeot 9X8: first a virtual project of 15,267 digital files
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