The California State University Sacramento (CSUS) Baja SAE team produces a small single passenger off-road vehicle to compete in the SAE collegiate design series each year. The team continues to improve upon past suspension designs year by year seeking to improve the vehicle’s dynamic performance.
The design of a successful Baja SAE suspension is not a simple task and there are many trade-offs made during the design process. The challenge of the Baja SAE series is that the terrain is extremely varied and the design of a given course will likely be radically different from location to location. As a result the vehicle needs to be able to navigate or crawl over obstacles quickly, maintain significant ground clearance, have enough suspension travel to absorb jumps and drops, and still be agile and quick enough to out maneuver the competition on the open track. Software such as MSC Software’s ADAMS provides an opportunity to make iterative design changes to the suspension geometry and spring/damper characteristics prior to design finalization. ADAMS can also help the designer visualize the suspension’s kinematics in action and allows the initial suspension characteristics developed to be closer to the final values thereby reducing time spent testing and tuning.