Case study

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)

Heavy Vehicle Simulator: The rise of the Titan 

Dynatest is designing and building a new one-of-a-kind Heavy Vehicle Simulator (the Titan) for The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). The rise of the Titan will solve the challenge of having an automated loading device, specially built to simulate military vehicles, aircraft and rail systems and in addition have an automated data collection.



The ERDC performs research and development of materials and procedures for the design, construction, evaluation and analysis of pavement systems, bridges, and rail systems and has been conducting research on transportation infrastructure to support the United States Department of Defense for many years. While researching new materials, designs, construction processes, and maintenance procedures, it is imperative that realistic models be used and that those models are evaluated using realistic loading conditions. Unfortunately, many pavements, bridges, and rail systems are designed to support large numbers of load cycles before failure. It is extremely difficult to apply large numbers of load cycles in a controlled manner using manned load cart equipment. Thus, it is necessary to accelerate the testing process by using automated loading devices, specially built to simulate military vehicles, aircraft and rail systems. Therefore, the ERDC wanted an automated system that can apply millions of load cycles in a controlled manner without causing fatigue to personnel and maintenance issues for traditional equipment.


The Beginning of the HVS program

The heavy vehicle simulator (HVS) was developed by CSIR as a testing facility for roads in the 1970ties. The HVS is a high-tech accelerated road-testing field lab with unique instruments that measure and analyze the engineering performance of road structures and material layers to test whether a specific road will have an acceptable lifespan. After 2 decades of successful development and simulation of roads in South Africa, the California Department of Transport (Caltrans) became interested in APT in the early 1990’s. In 1993 Caltrans commissioned The University of California at Berkeley (UCB), Dynatest and the CSIR to conduct a pilot project in South Africa to

evaluate the potential of the technology for use in California. The results of the pilot test were very positive and led to the signature of a collaborative agreement between UCB, Dynatest and the

CSIR to conduct the California APT program, funded by Caltrans. Today Dynatest still design and construct Heavy Vehicle Simulators in close cooperation and under the license of CSIR.


The rise of the Titan

The rise of the Titan means to develop a unique one-of-a-kind accelerated infrastructure testing machine (HVS-T) capable of rapidly and accurately simulating full- scale military vehicle, aircraft, and rail loads. Dynatest has never built a HVS of this size before. In addition to this, the Titan should have a new automated and semi-automated response and performance data collection methods for improving data collection efficiency during full-scale testing of infrastructure systems to reduce the very labor-intensive task. Finally, Dynatest and CSIR will develop new methodologies for performing accelerated infrastructure testing including data analysis tools.

The capability for the Titan is no less than fabulous, HVS-T will be capable of applying representative wheel loads ranging from 9,000 lbs. to 120,000 lbs. and capable of completing at least 10,000 passes bi-directionally of the load carriage during a 24-hour period over the full length of the pavement. The size of the Titan is rather impressive with a length of 150 ft, a height of 17.5 ft and a width of 16 ft. The mobile Titan weighs in at roughly 125 ton.


The future for HVS is bright

CSIR and Dynatest will continue the further development in HVS technology as there are a rising interest in APT internationally. Even before the Titan has seen the sunrise, Dynatest has already received requests for further HVS projects.


The massive machine will be:

  • 150 feet long
  • 16 feet wide
  • 17.5 feet tall
  • 125 ton in weight

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