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I used to think that dynos were pretty simple machines that cost less than $25,000. They were, basically, a rotating steel drum that measured torque by tracking the time it took to accelerate the rotation of the known mass.

In reading the January issue of Car & Driver, I discovered that the the dynos that we use are very crude machines. The major car manufacturers use massive, sophisticated dynos costing more than $1.5 million. They use what's called power absorption units that alters a dyno's resistance in sync with road speed. It enables part throttle runs, transient tests, and road load simulation outside the influence of traffic, weather, and terrain (e.g., downhill coasting). They also use an eddy-current brake- a kind of non-contact disc brake that uses a magnetic field to increase the load at the car's tires.
 
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