Developing a car is a long and arduous process. Yes, modern tools such as computer-aided engineering and finite element analysis make this process easier, and as today’s data-driven simulations become more and more accurate, we are getting closer and closer to the real situation. But there is still a considerable gap between the digital model and the real car; this is why the car must still be physically tested.
NATRAX is a new test facility located outside Indore, MP Dhar District, India. In order to simplify the process, a series of new test tracks have been built here. The facility covers an area of 2,960 acres and consists of a dozen different tracks and a series of test laboratories. Here are some more interesting ones, starting with the newly enabled high-speed track.
With a total length of 11.3 kilometers, four lanes wide and completely flat, this track has almost no slope; the deviation from the horizontal does not exceed plus or minus 3mm. In order to level the tracks and build dams, the construction team moved 5 million cubic meters of soil and 1.5 million cubic meters of rocks. The embankment is constructed using imported material transfer vehicles and parabolic sensor pavers that continuously lay the tracks to achieve seamless finishes and minimal seams. As a result, the design speed on curves is as high as 375 km/h, and the transition between parabolic ramps is so gradual that you can’t really determine when to get on or off. This is great, in fact, you can drive at 250 km/h with your hands almost off the steering wheel, sometimes with only minor corrections. To protect the area from outside intrusion, the facility has 23 kilometers of fence.
The facility was built by Spanish track expert IDIADA as a consultant and can be used for various development and certification tests, such as coasting, brake testing, constant speed fuel consumption operation, speedometer calibration, noise and vibration measurement, and even long-term mileage accumulation.
After a downpour, we even experienced the quality of the track drainage. There is no obvious stagnant water in the rain, and the track dries quickly, so that normal operations are not delayed too much. This good drainage system is not accidental; the main drainage canal is located at a depth of 13 meters and there are 45 kilometers of reinforced concrete drainage canals, some of which are large enough for swimming.
The 300-meter-wide non-slip mat also has a 1.5-kilometer-long guide line, where you can perform multiple operation tests.
The 300-meter-wide anti-skid pad is one of the largest tracks of its kind in the world. This is not just the circular orbit we are talking about; it even has a 1.5 km long lead-in. Therefore, various dynamic control tests, loads and loads in runoff areas can be safely carried out here. Constant radius tests, two-lane changes, J-turns and slalom tests can all be performed here. In order to maintain consistency, the longitudinal slope of this track is even zero.
The 3.6-kilometer processing track is the only one in India.
NATRAX’s handling track is the only such track in India. The track is 3.6 kilometers long and is packed with all kinds of corners that mimic ordinary roads, including sharp corners, smooth corners, and even camber corners designed to test all aspects of car handling. More runoff zones would be nice, but if you are looking for a place for dynamic assessment, there is nothing better than this.
The fatigue trajectory helps accelerate durability testing.
As one of NATRAX’s most important tracks, the fatigue track helps to simulate road conditions. This track is designed to accelerate the durability test of the car and has a variety of unpleasant surfaces such as bumpy tracks, Belgian paving, large cobblestones and herringbone surfaces, which are severe enough to shake out the fillings on the teeth. . There are 28 different configuration files in total.
The Belgian Pave track can fundamentally shake the structure of the car.
Sustainable development track
NATRAX has built a short hill road called the sustainable development track. Automakers can test engine cooling performance, clutch durability, and hill keeping control and hill descent control functions under conditions close to the real world.
Although sustainability tracking is used to evaluate the durability of a car, comfort tracking is essential when adjusting the suspension or making basic changes to affect the car’s ride comfort.
Different surfaces include rough concrete, smooth concrete, bridge joints, road steps, cleats, washboards, and rough asphalt.
The graded track is used to test the torque and traction of the vehicle. You can also test its ability to take off from a standstill on a slope and its traction. These tests are performed during loading and unloading. Then there are patches to simulate wet roads. To set the correct settings for your traction control system, this is the right place. Car manufacturers even test their Hill Hold function here. In order to determine the capabilities of the vehicle, many separate slopes with different gradients are used, and the car transitions from one slope to the next.
The list of test tracks also includes wet slip pads, special brake tracks, handling tracks for two- and three-wheeled vehicles, and noisy tracks.
As far as global standards are concerned, this absolutely world-class testing ground is located in a clean and vast space, obviously there. This facility will make future vehicles safer, better designed and more durable. This is a great achievement that we should all be proud of, and will go a long way in bringing Indian-designed vehicles to global standards.
Dr. N Karuppaiah – Head of National Automotive Test Circuit (NATRAX)
Your newly opened high-speed track is a miracle of civil engineering. Tell us the design and engineering behind it.
The test track is basically an open-air laboratory where you must be able to produce accurate and repeatable results. For this, we need to have a flat surface. The elevation angle of this track in the straight part changes to zero, and the overall margin of error is only plus or minus three millimeters. Then in order to achieve a smooth transition at a very high speed, our bank is made of asphalt instead of concrete.
When it comes to bank design, it is important to understand that the tighter the curve, the steeper the angle you need. To solve this problem, we used a huge radius of 1,000 meters for the curve. I think you must have noticed that our slope is not so steep compared to other test sites around the world, which makes high-speed driving more comfortable.
What tests can be done here?
You can test the maximum speed, acceleration and fuel consumption very accurately. In addition, there are central processing at high speeds, two-lane changes up to 200 km/h, and high-speed stability and durability. When I say high-speed durability, I mean even at 300kph, because here you can continue to run endlessly without having to slow down at the bank.
We noticed that the drainage is absolutely amazing. We have a lot of thunderstorms, but there is absolutely no standing water.
Absolutely. Water is the enemy of asphalt, and we have taken special measures here. The drainage channel is about four lanes in total, and the main drainage channel is two meters deep.
Who will be the main users of the track, and will it also be open to private car owners who want to experience high speeds?
This track is mainly for local original equipment manufacturers and those who wish to develop vehicles here. This also includes component suppliers and the tire industry. Now engineers do not need to travel abroad to Europe, China, South Korea or Taiwan for testing. In fact, our facilities are now very good, and we can expect some customers to go upstream, especially when the tracks in Europe and other regions are closed in winter.
Going back to the second part of the question, if we start accepting reservations and we find that we have free track time, we can invite private customers and supercar owners to experience the thrill of driving at such high speeds. However, two things are very important; the safety of the driver and the car and the confidentiality of the new car tested here.
0-300kph Mercedes-AMG GT R at NATRAX
Ourrecords a time of 0-300kph for the first time in the Mercedes-AMG GT R
NATRAX high-speed track is the longest test track in Asia