Issue: Jul 2006


Robot testers



Anthony Best Dynamics Limited (ABD) manufactures advanced testing systems for the automotive industry.

by Ed Richardson



Anthony Best Dynamics Limited (ABD) manufactures advanced testing systems for the automotive industry. The UK-based company products include specialized test and measurement systems that can test automobiles’ suspensions and steering as well as the noise and vibration of engines, transmissions and steering systems.
A recent new product is the accelerator robot to control the gas pedal. This allows much more accurate speed control during handling tests with steering robots and also provides repeatable acceleration ramps for in vehicle NVH testing.
ABD’s four wheel station Suspension Parameter Measurement Machine (SPMM) is a proven machine for use in kinematics and compliance testing. These machines measure the quasi-static suspension characteristics that are important to ride and handling. The machines measure the kinematic characteristics due to suspension and steering system geometries, and compliances due to suspension springs, anti-roll bars, elastomeric bushes and component deformations. The company has a cost-effective two-wheel station SPMM variant as well. Since both these machines can move the body of a vehicle in 6 degrees of freedom an option is available to measure the center of gravity and inertia properties of a complete vehicle.
A further recent development has been the Steering Rack Test Machine (SRTM) which measures the dynamic characteristics of steering systems up to 30 Hz in the laboratory.
Last year, ABD announced that it was upgrading its “PLATO” product for noise/vibration measurement and analysis of powertrain and power steering. PLATO provides a sophisticated noise and vibration test system for quality control testing at the end of the production line for transmissions, transfer cases, axles, engines and power steering. The simpler ELSA system also tests transmissions at the end of the production line. A major recent enhancement is quality checking of axle noise using torsional vibration or dynamic torque fluctuation of the axle shafts. One of the highlights of the improved Plato system is pass-by noise analysis. The novel feature of the system is that a radar (usually required to measure vehicle position and speed throughout the test) is not required, promoting a very cost-effective and easy to set-up solution on the test track.
Automotive Industries speaks to Tony Best, managing director of Anthony Best Dynamics, about the company’s products and its future plans.
Automotive Industries (AI): What are the advantages of some of the new products ABD has developed?
Best: With the addition of the accelerator robot to the product range of robots we can now control steering, brakes and accelerator. By using them in a combined manner with ‘path following’ we can control the vehicle automatically. This is particularly beneficial for the more dangerous handling tests when it is undesirable to have a driver in the vehicle. Clearly many fail-safe aspects and safety features have to be incorporated.
AI: Which region is ABD particularly strong in? And how do you hope to expand your global presence?
Best: We have been working hard in Asia and are pleased to have received another order for an SPMM from Japan. We will continue to expand our marketing and sales effort in Japan, South Korea and China.
AI: Do you plan to move or expand your manufacturing facilities outside the UK?
Best: The products we manufacture derive from a high level of technology and understanding of vehicle dynamics, software, control, electrical and electronics as well as mechanical engineering. We have built up an excellent team at Bradford on Avon. The number of products we produce in a year is relatively low and because we are supplying products around the world we believe that the UK is a good place to be.
AI: What are some of the plans you have for ABD’s future?
Best: To continue to gradually expand the size of our company and the range, scope and capability of our products – exactly what we have done over the past few years.


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