This project seeks to augment modeling and solution methods employed by Chrono, an open-source computer simulation platform for multi-body dynamics (MBD) and fluid-solid interaction (FSI) problems. Chrono will be able to capture dynamics at various size and time scales spanning from millisecond (impact phenomena) to decades (geophysics). These performance levels open up new directions of research in several fields. Chrono is widely used and further developed by other users and has an active forum with more than 250 registered users currently. This project will enhance the richness of Chrono's modeling features, sound numerical solution foundation, and leverage of emerging hardware architectures to elevate this simulation capability to the status of ready-to-use, open-source, best-in-class computational dynamics platform. Chrono has been used by universities, national labs, and industry. Over the past two years, various groups have used Chrono in extraterrestrial applications, machine learning in robotics, image processing, pattern recognition and computer vision, mechanical watch design, architectural studies, autonomous vehicles, fluid-solid interaction applications, wind turbine dynamics, next generation space suit design, oil extraction and accident mitigation, hardware-in-the-loop simulation, etc. Finally, this project will engage high-school students from under-represented groups in a six-day residential camp run (now at its 12th edition) and will train a group of undergraduate students from California State University at University of Wisconsin-Madison through a new residential program that will introduce them to the use of Chrono in simulation-based robotics design.
This project seeks to augment modeling and solution methods employed by Chrono, a BSD3 open-source simulation platform for multi-body dynamics (MBD) and fluid-solid interaction (FSI) problems. The software infrastructure enhancements in this project aim at sustaining teraflops-grade simulation of MBD and FSI systems with more than ten billion degrees of freedom; i.e., two to three orders of magnitude beyond conventional simulations today. In order to increase adoption and impact, the performance levels aimed at will be reached on budget/affordable hardware that leverages GPU computing. Chrono will be able to capture micro-, meso- and macro-scale dynamics on time scales spanning from millisecond (impact phenomena) to decades (geophysics). The intellectual merit of this project stems from the following key ideas: (i) with an eye towards the sunsetting of Moore's law, the software design solution embraces a scalable multi-GPU hardware layout poised to solve effectively large multi-physics problems; (ii) a hardware-aware software design paradigm, which aggressively reduces data storage and movement, will allow budget-conscious hardware systems to run billion-degree-of-freedom models, or, for models of similar size, accomplish a two orders of magnitude speedup when compared to the state of the art; (iii) a unified Lagrangian formulation for both solid and fluid dynamics is implemented in one software platform that can simulate complex multi-physics (coupled) problems; and (iv) Chrono promotes an alternative approach for handling friction and contact that revolves around the concept of differential variational inequality and thus avoids the small integration time step and numerical instability issues that hinder most of the existing many-body dynamics simulators. In relation to its educational and outreach initiatives, this project: (a) will be instrumental in establishing a new University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate course that introduces students to computing concepts subsequently refined in a graduate advanced computing class; (b) will promote the discipline of Computational Science and Computational Dynamics at high-school and undergraduate levels via two yearly residential summer programs for under-represented students; (c) will expand an advanced computing forum that facilitates technology transfer to industry and promotes Chrono adoption; and, (d) will strengthen ongoing collaborations that critically depend on Chrono in robotics, geomechanics, and soft-matter physics. Chrono is presently cloned on average 10 times every day, has been forked from its public repository by more than 150 parties, and has an active forum with more than 250 registered users. This project will enhance the richness of Chrono modeling features, improve its numerical solution foundation, and leverage emerging hardware architectures to elevate this simulation capability to the status of ready-to-use, open-source, best-in-class computational dynamics platform.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.