Date: 23 Nov 2012

Applying Agile Software Principles and Practices for Fast Automotive Development

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Abstract

This paper addresses lightweight designs both in terms of materials and processes. The study is based on the WIKISPEED SGT01 car, which was an entrant in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize contest to produce a full-sized road-legal car getting 100+ mi/gal (2.25 L/100 km). The 638 kg car is built from aluminum and composites. Agile Methods were introduced for software projects and give product cycle times measured in weeks, not years. Good software design demands modules that are loosely coupled and can be tested apart from the entire system. These principles have led to a modular automotive design. On the WIKISPEED car, major subassemblies such as suspension, motor, and body can be replaced in the time it takes to change a flat tire. The wheels and suspension bolt to the chassis and can be repositioned or replaced. The composite body bolts to the chassis and allows exchange of external shells. The same car can be a race car today and a pick-up truck tomorrow. This modularity allows for rapid iterations and experimentations during development, testing, and after purchase. A mid-engine design ensures that the center of gravity is well-positioned no matter what engine is used. Production does not use metal stamping, molds, or autoclaves.

F2012-E09-015