Group 23 - Barbie® Dune Buggy Power Wheels

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Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels



The course MAE 277, Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Practice, was designed to expose students to real-life challenges and technical aspects faced by mechanical engineers in industry and research labs. The product dissection project allows students to work on project and group management skills, while gaining a better understanding of the technical workings of common consumer products. For this project, Group 23 was assigned the Barbie® Dune Buggy Power Wheels. As the project progresses, from dissection and system analysis to reassembly, students will begin to grow an appreciation for every step in the designing and creation of any consumer product.

Executive Summary

Over the past semester, Group 23 has analyzed and dissected the Power Wheels Barbie Dune Buggy to gain a better understanding of the product. Going in we were aware that the Barbie Dune Buggy is a motorized ride on toy whose primary function is to transport the rider from one destination to another. As the semester continued, we learned more about the different subsystems and components of the toy as well as their functions. Group 23 was also able to make design revisions to the Barbie Dune Buggy to improve the product.

Through the initial dissection of the product, the components of the toy and the five different subsystems of the Barbie Dune Buggy were determined. The Subsystems included the electrical system, steering system, powertrain system, chassis, and radio system. The connections between each of the subsystems we’re also determined. All of the subsystems were connected to or housed in the chassis. The electrical system, converts chemical energy from the battery to electrical energy, and transports this energy to the powertrain system. The powertrain system then converts electrical energy to translational and rotational energy to allow motion. The steering system then directs the motion of the vehicle. The radio system functions by providing sounds to entertain the user. By dissecting the product, it was easy to determine how the subsystems were connected.

Through further analysis of our findings from the product dissection, more information about specific components of the Barbie Dune Buggy was determined. By looking at each component individually, the function of the component, manufacturing method used to make the component, component material, and component interactions we’re determined. This information also prompted design revisions to be made. These revisions include changing the tire material from plastic to rubber to increase traction, the installation of a kill switch to increase user safety in case the acceleration pedal becomes locked, clearer controls to make the product easier for the user to understand and adjustable seat settings to increase the lifetime of the toy.

After reassembling the Barbie Dune Buggy, the disassembly and reassembly processes were compared. More design revisions to the Barbie Dune Buggy were also made. These revisions include replacing lock washer with nuts and bolts, padding the steering wheel and windshield body to protect the user in case of a collision, implementation of rubber wheels to increase traction, and the installation of headlights to increase user safety.

Group Members

  • Jaclyn Bronner
  • Daniel Exford
  • Taylor Ferguson
  • Allison Lammerts
  • Samuel Pawlyk

Project Gates

The project gates were designed to keep the project moving forward and to keep the groups on track and on task during the semester.

Gate 1: Project Planning

The main purpose of Gate One is initial project planning. The group had to plan how to approach the product disassembly and reverse engineering of the Power Wheels. This also included breaking down the product dissection into specific tasks, assigning group members various roles, and planning out time management and a timeline of the other gates that will follow. In short, Gate 1 includes the following sections:

  • Work Proposal
  • Management Proposal
  • Initial Assessment

Group 23: Gate 1

Gate 2: Product Dissection

The main purpose of Gate Two is planning, organizing, and implementing the dissection of the physical product. The group followed the previously established plan for disassembly, while documenting the various steps necessary to proceed. It was also necessary to analyze how well this plan worked, as well as analyze the different components and subsystems of the product. Gate 2 includes the following sections:

  • Preliminary Project Review
  • Product Dissection
  • Product Assessment

Group 23: Gate 2

Gate 3: Product Analysis

The main purpose of Gate Three was to analyze the product in the post-dissection phase. The product was examined and analyzed at both the component and subsystem levels. Gate 3 includes the following sections:

  • Project Management: Coordination Review
  • Product Archaeology: Product Evaluation

Group 23: Gate 3

Gate 4: Product Explanation

The main purpose of Gate Four was the reassembly and further analysis of our product. These steps, along with the information gathered in prior steps, allowed us to draw some more detailed and developed conclusions about the product. Gate Four entails the following:

  • Project Management: Critical Project Review
  • Project Archaeology: Product Explanation

Group 23: Gate 4