The US Department of Energy's (DOE, Ann Arbor, MI) National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL, Golden, CO) has established the strategic role of functional virtual prototyping in its product-engineering process with a $650,000 software and services order to Mechanical Dynamics Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), the developer of ADAMS mechanical system simulation software.NREL, the DOE's premier laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research, will implement ADAMS in its ADVISOR (advanced vehicle simulator) project, which is part of the HEV program. The program's aim is to create a knowledge-based infrastructure, including tools and processes, which will aid in the conceptual development of energy-efficient automotive powertrain and related subsystems. The infrastructure will then be made available via the Internet to other government labs and automotive manufacturers and suppliers to facilitate fast, cost-effective development of energy-efficient vehicle systems.According to NREL, Mechanical Dynamics was selected based on its project- management experience, interfaces to other computer-aided engineering software and its automotive-specific software applications.One application that will play a strategic role in the HEV program is ADAMS/Car, a specialized simulation environment for vehicle development. ADAMS/Car is a key component in Mechanical Dynamics' functional digital car concept, which allows simulation of a complete vehicle, including chassis, engine, driveline and body. In addition to providing answers on how the overall system and its components move, the functional digital car gives users an understanding of how that movement affects packaging, comfort, vibration, noise and component durability.Mechanical Dynamics expects the majority of the revenue from the project to be recognized over the second half of 2000, as software is delivered and the related services are performed.