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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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