Simulation has become a vital part of the engine development process but could it really replace physical powertrain prototyping?
The past half century or so, has seen the development of the internal combustion engine progress from an art into a science. Once largely dependent on empirical techniques, it is now a truly predictive process, where events taking place in and around the cylinders are understood in increasingly minute detail. Earlier in the decade, it was suggested we could see powertrains developed without physical prototyping as early as 2020.
With barely a year to go, those predictions are looking decidedly shaky. But there is a definite move toward increased virtual development in place of physical testing. So, the question still stands: Will we ever be able to design and develop new powertrains using virtual methods alone?