If there's one thing Dr. Stephan Rinderknecht, a German professor at Technischen Universitat Darmstadt understands more than anything in America, it's cars.
"We're working on a test track with completely covering longitudinal dynamics and vertical dynamics and for this approach we need the linkage to the terrain," Rinderknecht said.
And Dr. Rinderknecht knows the nuts and bolts about automotive engineering.
"I originally come from transmissions and I'm looking now for new architectures, alternative drives, hybrids," Rinderknecht said.
His passenger for this latest project, Virginia Tech.
He's teamed with automotive engineering students studying terrain performance and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville to advance his work one step further.
"Usually when you think about power terrain engines transmission you usually think differently than the terrain you're going over. Maybe you think about how the engine is going to climb a hill but not the roughness of the road but you need to take both those things in account," said Virginia Tech professor Dr. John Ferris.
The two labs thousands of miles apart collide in Danville, bringing together terrain and technology in the back seat of a SUV and a hummer. A computer system records millions of data every second on Mechatronic systems, like transmissions, active steering, suspensions and their reaction with terrain.
"What we're trying to do is not optimize individual systems separately from one another but really optimize all the systems together it's a more wholistic approach," Ferris said.
With hopes of improving vehicle safety by sending their findings to car companies and the U-S Army.
"I think it's one step we take and one further add on we're giving. I think we have to be realistic, its a huge industry," Rinderknecht said.
And that interaction with large companies gives these students a huge advantage in the workforce.