Automotive Testing Incorporated and Heitz Automotive Testing (formerly doing business as Heitz  Chassis Lab) originated as  separate corporations which were complementary in function. Automotive Testing (ATI) provided fully-instrumented road, track, and proving grounds measurement of vehicle behavior, while the Chassis Lab provided laboratory measurement of all the individual vehicle parameters (except tires) involved in prediction of vehicle behavior by mathematical simulation models and in evaluation of vehicles against theoretically-defined criteria. Instrumentation, data acquisition hardware, and data processing software used by the two corporations are completely compatible.

In the period 1990-1996  ATI designed a "Programmable Steering Machine" to automate its rollover testing. In 1998 ATI  used the new steering machine to develop a reversed-steer rollover test with roll rate feedback. This testing concept has become a world standard for rollover testing. 

When other testing organizations requested copies of the steering machine, Heitz Chassis Lab developed an improved machine for manufacture. The Heitz Sprint 3 steering machine soon  became the de facto standard  for rollover and ESC testing, with over 40 units sold worldwide.

"In recent years, the use of programmable steering machines has become increasingly common in the automotive testing community. NHTSA, most automakers, and many private organizations now have extensive experience with these machines, and their respective test programs presently rely on the accuracy, repeatability, and reproducibility automated steering is capable of delivering."  ( An Assessment of Human Driver Steering Capability. DOT HS 809 975, June 2005)

In 2005 it was decided that ATI would take over all testing activity, while Heitz Automotive Testing would concentrate on sales of Heitz Sprint 3 machines as well as development and sales of other equipment for vehicle testing. A system for simultaneous control of steering, brakes, and throttle is under development by contractors to Heitz.



C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, says that "the human mind is generally far more eager to praise and dispraise than to describe and define. It wants to make every distinction a distinction of value". ATI's mission is the opposite: it is not to make value judgments to "praise or dispraise"; it is to "describe and define" by objective, carefully instrumented measurements. We are advocates only for measurement accuracy.



All ATI testing is performed in accordance with established standards or recommended practices, whenever such standards or recommended practices exist for obtaining the desired data. The Chassis Lab methodologies and the instrumentation accuracies  listed herein are in accordance with SAE J1574 for all items covered by J1574, although the range of applied forces, moments, and displacements is greater. Roadholding tests are performed  in accordance with numerous standard protocols as noted herein. We do not perform result-oriented tests.



Each test program is documented by one or more spiral-bound test reports and by unedited videotapes. Raw and processed data is made available on CDs.

All tests are videotaped, and all raw instrumentation data is anti-alias filtered, sampled 60 times per second, and recorded in 12-bit binary serial format in one to three video lines at the top of the screen, in a patented, proprietary process. Each video line carries 12 channels of data. Raw instrumentation data is also superimposed onto the video picture, in columns of twelve 3-digit numerics or in several other graphic forms, either during the test or during editing. Test videotapes are provided with and without on-screen timing, and with and without superimposed numerical data. Video formats can be  VHS, S-VHS, or digital.

Test reports are completely objective (no value judgments) and include:  purpose of the test; vehicle description and any departure from manufacturer's specification; description of methodology and instrumentation; plotted data; equations fitted to plotted data (in parameter measurements); still photographs of test set-ups; and copies of the protocols used.

In preparation of the reports raw data is filtered as required, by running average or Fourier methods, and zeroed. In cases where dynamic data is to be compared, the phase shifts caused by anti-aliasing filters are removed. The resulting data set, along with any auxiliary variables that must be obtained from recorded data by integration, etc., is saved as the "processed data set" for use in preparing data plots. Floppy disks containing both the original raw data and the processed data set are supplied on request, in binary or compressed ASCII files.


ATI began in 1970 as a spin-off from a Princeton University research project called "The Dynamics of the Car-Driver Combination". It was incorporated to "perform instrumented documentation of automobile handling performance"  in 1978.

Primary interest has been in accurate, well-documented measurement of vehicle handling qualities, and in instrumentation methodologies to give better data and better insight into the measurement processes.

In the early 70's work concentrated on developing compact, lightweight data acquisition and recording systems, with magnetic tape and "quick-look" eight-channel stripchart recorders, all powered from the vehicle's cigarette lighter. This was followed by improving in-vehicle motion picture photography with specially-designed, graduated "windshield filters", and in the late 70's by a switch to video and real-time split images using synchronized video cameras.

From 1981-85 a switch was made from analog to digital data recording, and development work was concentrated on combining the magnetic tape, "quick-look" stripchart, and audio/visual video recording into one source. This work culminated in patenting and putting into service the unique "Dataline System", which combines sight, sound, and instrumentation data for playback in synchronism for time & motion study of vehicle handling questions. With 20 years of reliable service behind it, the Dataline System remains the mainstay of our data acquisition technology. One unique advantage of this system is the ability to single-frame the "driver's view" in a severe test maneuver, with on-screen display of all motion parameters from instrumentation. A second advantage is the ability to re-live a test program from the driver's seat months or years after its actual performance.

The "Video G-G Diagram", also patented in 1985, was a logical offshoot of the basic Dataline. This device overlays the vehicle G-G diagram on a through-the-windshield video picture,  along with bar-graphs for throttle and brakes at the top of the picture and lap times & splits at the bottom. It has proven to be a useful tool for race car/driver in development and race practice.

ATI had been performing CG and various chassis parameter measurements on an as-requested basis since the 1970's. In 1992,  anticipating that mathematical simulation models would soon come into wide use, it was decided to organize a complete chassis parameter capability, including all inertial, kinematics, compliance, steering, and shock absorber/strut items. Heitz Automotive Testing  was formed as a  separate, but complementary, entity, organized to do in-lab parameter testing as Heitz Chassis Lab, with ATI concentrating on vehicle handling testing. Acting together, using identical data acquisition hardware and complementary software, ATI/Heitz offers capability for complete evaluation of vehicles or simulation models.

ATI has always concentrated on standardized tests performed to industry protocols.  For many years we have been active in preparing standards for handling qualities measurements, as a participant in the SAE Vehicle Dynamics Committee and in the American Advisory Group to the ISO committee for vehicle roadholding standards (ISO/TC22/SC9). ATI now offers all current SAE and ISO test protocols.

A steering machine is necessary for some ISO test protocols, and an easily-installed, high-performance, programmable steering machine can provide more precise, more repeatable results in many other test protocols. Furthermore, such a steering machine is necessary for any kind of objective rollover testing. Therefore in 1992 ATI built a crude prototype steering machine for its own rollover testing, and by the end of 1996 had developed a "proper" version. When several companies requested copies, and based on experience with that unit, Heitz began manufacture of  the Sprint steering machine.  

By 2005 Heitz was fully involved  with steering machines and other devices for test automation, and so ATI took over all testing activities.

As illustrated throughout this Website description, ATI/Heitz offers, and will continue to offer, leading-edge capabilities in the study of vehicle roadholding performance.


1.7.1   Automotive Testing, Inc. - Edward J. Heitzman

M.E. degree, Stevens Institute of Technology, 1956. Graduate work in Mathematics, Engineering Mechanics, and Servomechanisms at Wayne State University, Detroit; Theoretical Aerodynamics at University of Detroit; Airplane Dynamics, Pilot Dynamics, Automatic Controls, and Aerospace Instrumentation at Princeton University.

June 1956-September 1964: Research Engineer at the General Motors Research Staff. Work included steering & suspension systems, vehicle response to control inputs, chassis design and stress analysis, aerodynamics and wind tunnel testing. Senior Research Engineer at the General Motors Design Staff. Work included establishing structural frequency response criteria and development of structures and suspensions for future production cars.

September 1964 to January 1966: Attended Princeton University under General Motors Mid-Career Fellowship. Research in mathematical models for car/driver behavior. During summer of 1955 gave series of lectures at General Motors on car/driver modeling.

January 1966-June 1970: Member of Research Staff, Princeton University Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences. Project Leader in a University research program called "Dynamics of the Car-Driver Combination", which was aimed at a fundamental understanding of the driving task and of the effect of vehicle response dynamics on the performance of the car/driver system. Work included design of a research automobile with four-wheel steer and a fully-active suspension system, using hydraulic servoactuators controlled by a 300-amplifier analog computer system. Technical responsibilities included design and construction of all mechanical, hydraulic, and electronic systems in this vehicle, general design of the experiments for which the vehicle was intended, design of the digital data acquisition system and its computer interface, and specification of test documentation requirements and associated computer programs.
October-December 1966: Special Consultant to National Highway Safety Bureau. Assisted in preparing the initial set of Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Was primarily responsible for original versions of tire standards S-109 and S-110.

January 1967 to January 1970: Charter member of National Motor Vehicle Safety Advisory Council.
This Council, in which members were appointed by the President, was organized to advise the Secretary of Transportation on policy matters regarding motor vehicle safety standards.

February 1966 to July 1978: Partner in Automobile Development Associates, consulting in automobile design and design issues; and from 1970 on in handling qualities testing and in instrumentation for vehicle testing.

July 1978 to present: Principal Engineer, Automotive Testing, Inc. Responsible for customer interface, design and execution of test programs, mechanical design of instrumentation and test facilities.

March 1991 to 2005: Consultant to Heitz Chassis Lab. Performed mechanical design; assisted in performance of tests and preparation of reports.

2005 to present: Responsible for all chassis lab testing.

Member of Society of Automotive Engineers, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Human Factors Society. Member of the SAE Vehicle Dynamics, Ride & Handling Committee and the American Technical Advisory Group to the International Standards Organization Committee ISO/TC22/SC9 - Vehicle Dynamics and Roadholding. Editor of SAE Recommended Practice J266 (1995) - Steady-state Directional Control Test Procedures for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.

"Forced-air cooled drum brake" (3,043,630); "Emergency hydraulic fluid supply system" (2,995,382); "Weight transfer compensated brake system " (3,133,766).  "Driver-vehicle behavior display apparatus" (4,716,458) and "Real-time video-data acquisition system"(4,814,896) were co-invented with Edward F. Heitzman.

1.7.2   Heitz Automotive Testing Inc.  Edward F. Heitzman

BE in Computer Science, Stevens Institute of Technology, 1983. MSE in Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1985.

June 1983 to present: Consultant in computer integration and software to several organizations in fields of education and medical office billing systems.

June 1985 to Present: Electronic Design, Data Processing, and Test Engineer, Automotive Testing Inc. Was primarily responsible for all logic design and circuit design, and was totally responsible for all printed circuit layout, assembly, testing, and maintenance various data acquisition and video systems. Wrote all software for data processing system: data entry from videotape, frequency domain filtering, number crunching, data plotting and presentation. Participated in all vehicle test programs as instrumentation technician.

March 1991 to December 2005: Principal Engineer, Heitz Chassis Lab. Responsible for setup and conduct of tests, data acquisition, data processing, data presentation.

January 2006 to present: Consultant and contractor to Heitz Automotive Testing. Assembles and test Sprint 3 machines; handles upgrades and repairs. Works with other contractors on new designs. 

Member of IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society.

Co-inventor of "Driver-vehicle display apparatus" (4,716,458), and "Real-time video data acquisition system" (4,814,896).

Last modified 6/28/2011