If you own an old British sports car, you may be familiar with lever-arm rotary dampers. These shock absorbers did an okay job, but did not have the broadband control of today’s upright hydraulic telescopic dampers. So why would Audi be looking at replacing today’s design with one from the past? Two words: energy recuperation.
Audi calls the prototype eROT. In it a lever arm absorbs the motion of the wheel hub, and transfers it by means of a series of gears to an electric motor that turns this motion into electrical energy. Audi says the average recuperation output is 100 to 150 watts on German roads. This varies from three watts on a freshly paved surface to 613 watts on a rough secondary road. Central to this system is a high-output 48-volt electrical system that is connected to the car’s 12-volt electrical system by a DC converter. A lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 0.5 kWh and peak output of 13 kilowatts stores and releases the energy produced by the dampers.
That output is needed because eROT is an active suspension that decouples the compression and rebound strokes, and uses the recovered energy to control wheel movement. This, Audi claims, increases the functional scope of camper control, which is freely definable via software. Thus, the compression stroke can be kept comfortably soft while the rebound stroke is taut. And, with the high system output, real-time millisecond control of wheel travel can be achieved.
In addition, because the electromechanical dampers package horizontally and are physically connected to the wheel at the lowest point of the hub carrier, the space reserved for conventional upright telescopic dampers can be eliminated, and the new design packaged behind the rear axle line. Similarly, a front eROT unit would take the place of a suspension lower arm. — CAS
BAC, builders of the Mono street legal, single-seat track day car, has partnered with Haydale Composite Solutions to manufacture parts from graphene. Lighter and stronger than carbon fiber, graphene is made from sheets of carbon just one atom thick. It can bring weight reductions of approximately 20%, while being 200 times stronger than steel. The first parts to be made from this material are the Mono’s rear fenders. They were chosen due to their size and complexity, and to test how they fit in with the rest of the car.
According to BAC Development Director and co-founder Neill Briggs said: “Making significant weight savings and improving body strength will allow us to offer improved performance to our customers. [We actively sought to] work with the very best in the industry to stay at the forefront of the automotive and motorsport industries.” To which Ebby Shahidi, Haydale Composite Solutions Ltd.’s Director of Aerospace and Defence added: “These initial materials have shown some major increases in impact and thermal performance coupled with improved surface finish and it’s pleasing to see these attributes being demonstrated on such a high performance vehicle as the Mono.” — CAS
Owen Developments’ new GBT turbocharger is a clean-sheet design with an external wastegate and near symmetrical scroll with zero bolt penetration that enhances the circulation of exhaust gasses to the turbine. It is designed for fast road, track day, drifting and motorsport use for vehicles producing from 250 to 850 horsepower.
According to company director Lee Owen, “Over the years we have been required to manufacture and modify more and more components for performance and racing turbocharger applications. So we found ourselves at the point where we decided to take the next logical step up, manufacturing our own range of performance/motorsport turbochargers.”
In addition to conventional turbo oil line compatibility, the GBT incorporates an in-line filter in the turbo housing. This serviceable mesh unit can trap debris as small as 150 microns, and provides an extra layer of protection. The unit also features an HTA billet compressor wheel, billet heat shield, motorsport spec. ball bearing unit, conical compressor nut and anodized billet adaptor rings. Each turbo is rebuildable to help the customer save money. “A damaged compressor or turbine wheel can be repaired by our technicians without the customer being required to purchase a new turbo or core assembly,” says Owen.
The GBT family of turbos supersedes the company’s M-Spec portfolio, and is classified using the “OD-GBT” prefix. An OD-GBT-5471 has a 54-mm diameter turbine inlet, 71-mm compressor outlet, and is suitable for applications up to 480 horsepower. OD was recently selected as the sole turbo supplier of the FIA’s F2 race series, and appointed sole turbo supplier for the British Touring Car Championship through 2021. It has similar arrangements with the BMW Mini Challenge, Indy Light series and the Chinese Touring Car Championship. — CAS
Ford has produced a surprisingly fun and witty look at how it and partner Kuka are integrating collaborative robots, or “co-bots”, into the production process. The first use of the technology is at Ford’s Cologne, Germany, assembly plant lifting the damper units for the Fiesta, and holding them in place. A human worker then presses a button on the assembly to complete the installation.
This begs the question of when Ford and Kuka will be so certain of the co-bot’s throughput that human intervention is no longer needed. However, Ngali Bongongo, a production worker at Ford’s Cologne plant says, “Working overhead with heavy air-powered tools is a tough job that requires strength, stamina, and accuracy. The robot is a real help.”
Similar technology is currently in use in the pharmaceutical and electronics industries, but the one-meter tall unit used in Cologne covers two work stations, and is part of Ford’s look into Industry 4.0, the so-called fourth industrial revolution where automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies are combined. — CAS