Print 24 comment(s) - last by snhoj.. on Feb 12 at 4:38 PM

Patent also shows aerodynamic wheels

Although there are numerous patents that get filed and never applied to real-life products, a couple of a few patents from automaker Audi have turned up that are reportedly going to be used in a production vehicle within the next two years.
The patents are for “active” aerodynamic wheels and an electric all-wheel drive system. The patent for the wheels shows a hinged flap between the spokes that move over the spokes of the wheels as speed increases. Once fully deployed, the hinged flaps create a flat wheel surface, reducing drag.
Active Wheel Shutters on the Ford Atlas Concept

Audi says that the fully enclosed wheels smooth the airflow and help improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle. When the car starts to slow down, the flaps reopen. The flaps are also temperature sensitive and if the brakes become too hot, the flaps open to allow cooling air inside.
It's hard to imagine the extra complexity of this sort of wheel justifying any fuel efficiency improvements gained by better aerodynamics, but the Germans are known for using overly complex electrical/mechanical systems.
Ford showed a similar active flap system with its Atlas concept truck at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, but that feature didn’t make it into the all-new 2015 F-150.
Audi Quattro LaserLight Concept

The other Audi patent is for electric all-wheel drive technology, outlining a system with an electrically driven rear axle. The patent is for software systems that use sensors in the wheels to detect when the wheels break traction on slippery surfaces.
The patent outlines a system that would use regenerative braking that varies according to road conditions. The sensors would detect speed differences between the front wheels and rear wheels to determine how much braking force is appropriate.

Source: Autocar

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Complex nonsense!
By piroroadkill on 2/10/2014 9:50:20 AM , Rating: 3
Give me some real wheel spats, now you're saving fuel AND it's not some complicated bullshit that will break and require special wheels.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By Reclaimer77 on 2/10/2014 11:38:31 AM , Rating: 1
Absolutely. Whoever is rating you down is a moron.

This accomplishes nothing. Furthermore it adds weight to the vehicle for a (probably) immeasurable gain that will never be realized in city driving anyway.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By StealthX32 on 2/10/2014 11:45:57 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe when hover cars get popular (again).

RE: Complex nonsense!
By Argon18 on 2/10/14, Rating: 0
RE: Complex nonsense!
By Spuke on 2/10/2014 12:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, definitely gimmicky. Not that I'd buy an Audi anyways (well maybe a R8).

RE: Complex nonsense!
By alpha754293 on 2/10/2014 12:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.

Actually, regen braking systems works.

My Fusion hybrid's coming up on 25,000 miles, and so far, I think that I've only used about like 2% of the brake pad wear, so unless I start doing more panic stops, there's actually a fairly good chance that the only reason why I would have to change the brake pads/rotors is to give it a new surface for it to work on - otherwise, according to my best guestimate/calculations, I won't have to change my brake pads EVER (in the life of the vehicle) if I continue using regen braking the way I do now.

And if they're patenting the electric all wheel drive system for EVs, then the regen is going to be VERY beneficial to them. Think a la AMG SLS Electric that was on Top Gear last series.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By yomamafor1 on 2/10/2014 3:14:42 PM , Rating: 4
Actually regenerative brakings are not gimmicks. The efficiency of regen braking ranges from 30% ~ 55%. Reclaiming 30% of the energy is a lot better than reclaiming 0% of the energy.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By snhoj on 2/10/2014 8:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
I think this regenerative braking system is coupled to the electric drive rear axle only. So the regenerative braking would only occur on the rear axle. The detection of slippage is so the regenerative braking will back off when the onset of skidding is detected so the car won’t become unstable under regenerative braking (think handbrake turns). Regenerating only from the rear wheels will make the system substantially less effective than full regenerative braking.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By flyingpants1 on 2/11/2014 3:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
Works fine on the Model S and all current EVs.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By snhoj on 2/11/2014 10:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
Nissan Leaf is FWD. Spark EV is FWD. Volt while not strictly speaking an EV is FWD. So not all current EV's regenerate through the rear wheels. The article wasn't about EV's but a hybrid. Front wheel only regen has more potential.

A number of factors will work against the effectiveness of rear wheel only regen. The vehicle featuring the electric rear axle will be a modified front wheel drive vehicle with a substantially forward weight bias. Less weight on the rear wheels means that less braking is able to be done by the rear wheels. Weight shifts forward during braking i.e. off the rear wheels meaning less braking is able to be done by the rear wheels. This would translate to a system capable of fairly low rates of deceleration under regenerative braking.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By snhoj on 2/12/2014 4:38:19 PM , Rating: 2
It occurs to me that there are factors which will mitigate these effects in the Model S. The model S isn't a converted FWD car so it doesn't have the forward weight bias. A higher portion of the vehicle weight is carried by the rear wheels. In fact 52% of its weight is born by the rear wheels so it has a slight rearward weight bias. The model S having its battery pack in the floor of the car has a very low center of gravity. This has the effect of reducing weight shifts during braking (and accelerating and cornering) to a minimum.

Tesla is developing an AWD version of the model S which should have very effective regenerative brakes.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By flyingpants1 on 2/11/2014 3:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
Also saves your brakes.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By amanojaku on 2/10/2014 1:27:49 PM , Rating: 2
According to the patent application, this isn't complex. A simple spring holds the flaps open; centripetal force due to increased speed overcomes the springs, closing the flaps. The only "complicated" mechanism is the temperature sensor, which actively forces open the flaps in case of overheating. This looks pretty simple. Just how much of an advantage this provides is yet to be determined, but it doesn't look like it's going to add significantly to vehicle costs or equipment failure. Might have helped if Shane included pictures from the patent.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By Bubbacub on 2/10/2014 5:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
Active aero in general is a good idea.
Increasing the unsprung weight of a supposedly highish end car is dumb.

RE: Complex nonsense!
By inperfectdarkness on 2/11/2014 4:26:11 AM , Rating: 2
I would love to see wheel spats make a comeback. The unfortunate side to them is that they can severely limit brake ventilation. Of course, if we had inboard disc brakes, that wouldn't be an issue...but you don't see companies offering cars with brakes like that.

Electric wheel drives
By Cluebat on 2/10/2014 1:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
I am still waiting for someone to come out with direct- drive EV wheels.

RE: Electric wheel drives
By snhoj on 2/10/2014 8:45:44 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not. Wheel motors substantially increase the unsprung weight which will have a significant negative effect on vehicle dynamics. In order to generate the required torque without the aid of any gearing direct drive motors will need a lot of poles. The gradability of such a vehicle is likely to be compromised. At the end of the day a better solution is to put the motors inboard where they won’t contribute to unsprung weight and behind reduction boxes were their torque can be amplified by gearing so they can be small and light and the vehicle gradability won’t be a compromise.

RE: Electric wheel drives
By Cluebat on 2/11/2014 7:50:28 AM , Rating: 2

Leaf is 80 kW and the wheels are much larger than the one on this scooter.

I think it's very doable with present technology. You can pick it apart all you like, but I don't think that there is any point you have made which cannot be easily overcome. Of course if everyone wanted one then we would have material supply issues, but we already have that with lithium and rare earth metal supplies on current EVs.

RE: Electric wheel drives
By snhoj on 2/11/2014 10:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
A leaf will also weigh many times what that scooter will weigh. Power and torque are two different things. Power is a fairly meaningless parameter when determining gradability. Torque at the wheel divided by the rolling radius of the wheel will determine the motive force. Weight of the vehicle times gravity times the gradient will determine the force that must be overcome for the vehicle to move up the grade.

It is true that these are just technical issues to be overcome and I'm sure will be one day but for me the compromises that must currently be struck are just not worth it for some debatable vehicle packaging advantage. I’m not convinced the compromises will ever be worth it.

RE: Electric wheel drives
By PaFromFL on 2/11/2014 8:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
Active suspensions can compensate for the increase in unsprung weight. Inboard motors take up space and increase mechanical complexity. Hopefully hub motors will reduce the overall weight and size of the vehicle, reducing torque requirements.

RE: Electric wheel drives
By snhoj on 2/11/2014 9:39:35 PM , Rating: 2
The best way to compensate to unsprung weight is to reduce unsprung weight. Deal with the problem directly rather than adding extra layers of technology and complexity to try and fix the symptoms. To me the benefits in terms of vehicle packaging are outweighed by the deficits. Mechanical complexity is a mute point when you consider that you will have to work around some mechanical brakes and increase the number of poles in the motor by a factor of at least 5. Then because the wheel is now full of motor and brakes steering geometry is compromised.

The real world.
By Gunbuster on 2/10/2014 11:45:05 AM , Rating: 2
You drove through mud: warranty void

You drove through sand: warranty void

You drove through snow: warranty void

You Drove through a puddle over 5MPH: warranty void

RE: The real world.
By Landiepete on 2/12/2014 4:17:40 AM , Rating: 2
How is Land Rover warranty relevant to this discussion ?

By Zak on 2/10/2014 2:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
"The patent is for software systems that use sensors in the wheels to detect when the wheels break traction on slippery surfaces." -- Seriously???

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