Research at the University of Pretoria in the field of Vehicle Dynamics and Mobility began in the 1970’s and gained new momentum in the past decade, up to the establishment of the Vehicle Dynamics Group (VDG) as a formal research group in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering during 2011.
Vehicle dynamics and mobility is of general importance to the people of South Africa as vehicles of different kinds remain the main mode of transport for the majority of ordinary people and local industries. The group’s focus is multi-faceted and exposes scholars and students to vehicle dynamics and mobility, promotes the study and understanding of vehicle dynamics and mobility through student designs and projects in the final year mechanical engineering curriculum, promotes the study, understanding and application of vehicle dynamics and mobility nationally and internationally through the South African version of the Baja SAE® competition in collaboration with local industry, encourages research activities through postgraduate studies at Masters, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral levels. VDG also facilitates national and international collaboration with other institutions and has strong collaborative links with industry and academia on local, national and international levels.
The objective of our research work is the improvement of vehicle safety, occupant safety, comfort, reliability and efficiency. This is achieved by applying the fundamental principles of science and engineering. Extensive use is made of experimental, analytical and computational tools and techniques to achieve a deep fundamental understanding of vehicle dynamics. Large emphasis is placed on the realisation of new technologies and the demonstration thereof.
The expertise currently available in the VDG has been established by funding obtained from local and international research institutions and industry partners. The group has been responsible for training the vast majority of undergraduate, MEng and PhD students in the field of Vehicle Dynamics and Mobility in South Africa.
Global recognition of the VDG as a centre of excellence is rapidly increasing. Papers presented at local and international conferences, as well as published peer–reviewed journal papers ensure continued exposure to the international research community. Requests to VDG members to peer-review papers for international journals and international collaboration are also increasing. This helps to establish a wide international network of scientific and engineering knowledge. The group is also represented on the board of directors of the ISTVS (International Society for Terrain Vehicle Systems) and has organised the 12th European Conference of the Society in South Africa during 2012.