Audi Patents Details Active Aero Wheels, Electric Quattro All-Wheel Drive System
February 10, 2014 9:17 AM
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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.
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RE: Electric wheel drives
2/11/2014 7:50:28 AM
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
2/11/2014 10:00:14 PM
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.
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