Computational synthesis of wheeled vehicles via multi-layer topology optimization

Kai A. James, Patrick L. Kelley, Ziliang Kang, Anurag Bhattacharyya, Lee R. Alacoque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In current engineering practice, computer-aided design (CAD) tools play a key role in the design and fabrication of most mechanical systems, including the design of most vehicles. This software tends to rely heavily on human designers to provide the basic design concept, with the software being used to computationally render an existing design, or to perform modifications to a design to achieve incremental improvements in performance. However, an emerging class of computational methods, known as topology optimization methods, offers the potential for true black box computational design. Under this general framework, practitioners provide the algorithm with the constitutive properties of the design materials, and the mechanical function being designed for (e.g. maximum stiffness under a given loading condition), and the algorithm autonomously generates a description of the corresponding structure. With some exceptions, existing topology optimization methods are limited to generating static, single-body designs. In this study, we present a novel method that builds upon the current state of the art by combining multiple collocated planar design domains to achieve automated computational synthesis of multi-body wheeled vehicles. This capability represents an important step on the path toward automated computational design of increasingly complex, innovative and impactful mechanical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20230221
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2277
StatePublished - Sep 13 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • computational design synthesis
  • multi-body mechanisms
  • topology optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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