Course Description

University of California, Davis
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Vehicle Stability - EME 134
2020 Spring, Lecture: MWF 11:00-11:50 AM, Lab: F 12:10-3:00 PM
CRN: 63533

The world contains a variety of vehicles that transport people and goods for commerce, recreation, and exploration. Vehicles are designed to move through various environments (land, air, and sea) in efficient, safe, optimal, and performant manners. The motion of a vehicle is governed by the mechanism in which forces are applied to the vehicle by the environment and vice versa. The interaction forces are a function of the vehicle's design and the travel medium. To understand these phenomena engineers often turn to mathematical models capable of predicting the observed motion. Two very common concerns for vehicle designers are 1) whether a vehicle will ever become unstable and 2) whether it is reasonably easy to control given the design choices.

In this class, you will explore the dynamics of a number of different types of vehicles by developing and exercising simple mathematical models. You will also connect this mathematical exploration to interactive experimental demonstrations of many of the vehicles. Both will provide insight about the design of vehicles for good performance and handling. When complete, you will be able to model vehicles, analyze their behavior, identify common design issues, and make decisions about design with respect to vehicle dynamics.

Learning Objectives

After completing the course students will be able to:

  • create simple mathematical models of a variety of vehicles
  • identify when vehicles are stable/unstable
  • identify parameters that affect stability
  • describe typical modes of motion for various vehicles
  • utilize simulations of vehicles for design purposes
  • analyze vehicle motion for desirable characteristics
  • apply simple automatic control to stabilize vehicles

Catalog Description

EME 134—Vehicle Stability (4) Lecture—3 hour(s); Laboratory—3 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): ENG 102 C- or better. Restricted to Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering/Materials Science Engineering majors. Analytical and experimental studies of the dynamics, stability and control of vehicles such as cars, trailers, airplanes, motorcycles, bicycles and rail cars. GE credit: SE. Effective: 2017 Fall Quarter.


  • ENG 102 (C- or better)


Jason K. Moore
Assistant Professor of Teaching, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
2095 Bainer Hall

Russell Hawkins
Graduate Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Time and Location

The lecture/discussion meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00-11:50 AM. The lab meets on Fridays 12:10-3:00 PM. The final exam is scheduled for Thursday June 11 6:00PM-8:00PM.

If you have any conflicts with the schedule you must tell me in the first week of class (emergencies will be the only exception).

Office Hours

Jason's Office Hours
Location: Zoom
Times: Thursdays @ 4:30 PM

Russell's Office Hours
Location: Zoom
Times: M 12:00 PM

If it is impossible to make office hours, schedule an appointment with Jason by checking his work calendar and select a free time between 8:00 AM and 6:30 PM Monday-Friday. Send him an email requesting an appointment at the suggested meeting times at least a day in advance. You can also email the teaching assistant and request a meeting.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Please visit the Academic Integrity web page from UC Davis Office of Student Judicial Affairs to review the campus' policy on academic responsibility and integrity and read the UC Davis code of academic conduct.

Under the coronavirus related remote teaching and learning, you are still expected to uphold the UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct and any suspected violations will be immediately reported to the SJA for investigation.

Feel free to discuss homework assignments and work on them together, but each student must turn in a unique solution. Each student will turn in an individual report for Lab 1 and you will be assigned a Lab partner for Labs 2-5. You may discuss and work on labs together with other students but each lab report must be a unique solution. You may discuss and help each other on your project but each project report must be a unique.


We will use the following book as the official and required textbook:

Vehicle Dynamics, Stability, and Control, Dean Karnopp, 2nd Edition, CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4665-6085-7 [Book Information]

The book is available via the Canvas Bookshelf page. You will need to opt-out if you don't want to be charged for the digital book.

The first edition of the book, titled "Vehicle Stability" is likely sufficient but the problem sets will not necessarily match. You will find an errata for the latest book on Canvas "Files". We will also provide you with free online resources and other supplementary materials.

Assignments & Grades

Grades will be available in the grade book periodically throughout the course along with class statistics. The Canvas projected final grades should be considered estimates. Check the website on a regular basis to gauge your performance. Keep in mind that 15% is deducted per business day late on all assignments.

Syllabus Change

Note that the syllabus has changed as of April 29th, 2020. The project was removed and the percentages for the homework and lab grades have been readjusted.

Homework 40%
Labs 60%
Weekly homework, based mostly on textbook problems, will be assigned and be due before class the following week. Homework will be assessed using a rubric tied to the learning objectives. You will receive a "little or no effort", "needs improvement", "meets expectations" for each objective. You may turn in your homework a second time and any "needs improvements" can be raised to "meets expectations". You cannot resubmit your homework if you received a "little or no effort" on any item. The lowest homework grade will be dropped.
Computational assignments will be due approximately every other week. Students will be in groups of two and will submit a lab report detailing their methods, analyses, and results.


We will make use of Canvas for the course. Log in to with your Kerberos ID and passphrase then select EME 134 001 SQ 2020.

We will be using several features in canvas:

This will be my primary communication avenue to you. These announcements will be forwarded automatically to your UCD email address. You are expected to read these either through your email program or on the Canvas website.
Any electronic assignments will be distributed and collected here.
Access to your digital copy of the book.
Forum to ask and answer questions.
Your grades and basic stats on your relative performance will be available as the course goes along.
Copyrighted and private files, documents, and other resources will be available here for download. The rest will be available for download on this website.
Meeting information for the virtual lectures and lab/discussion sections.


Instructor announcements

Electronic announcements from the instructors to the whole class will be made through Canvas. By default, Canvas will automatically sends the announcement to your UCD email address. You can change your Canvas settings to opt out, send it to a different email, or as an SMS. You are responsible for reading the announcements made via canvas.


Lectures, labs, and office hours will be delivered live through a video conferencing service, e.g. Zoom, at the appointed lecture times. The lectures will be recorded and the videos will be shared via Canvas as soon as they are processed. Students should attend the live lectures if at all possible but attendance is not required due to the extenuating circumstances. Contact the instructors ASAP if you have any factors that may limit your participation via video conferencing. Beware that your participation in the lectures will be recorded and shared with the others taking course.

Canvas Discussions

All asynchronous questions should be asked via Canvas Discussions unless they are of a personal nature (see email below). Canvas discussions should be used for all questions about the class, homework, theory, projects, etc that is not of a private nature. This allows both the instructors and students to collectively answer questions for the whole class's benefit.


Make an account with your UCD email address here:

Once you have an account you can ask the instructor to add you to the channel.

The primary purpose of this channel is for you all to have a way to discuss and help each other with the assignments and to have a way to communicate with your class mates on matter regarding the course. The UCD Principles of Community and Code of Academic Conduct apply for the communication in the Slack channel.


Personal electronic correspondence to the instructors should be made by email.


The primary instructor should be informed of any learning accommodations at least 1 full week before the desired accommodation is needed. I expect students to contact me to discuss any special arrangements with 1 week time to make and agree on the arrangements.

Student Campus Resources

This is a helpful page for students' frequently asked questions: