UQM Technologies, a developer of alternative energy technologies, has been awarded a $749,000 Phase II contract from the US Air Force to develop electric wheel motors for aircraft ground support vehicles under the Small Business Innovation Research program. Work under the Phase II contract is expected to occur over a two-year period.
This contract is a follow-on to the Phase I contract awarded last summer, and provides for the development and delivery of an all-electric aircraft material handling vehicle. The vehicle will be tested at Robins Air Force Base under the management of the Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) of the 542nd Combat Sustainment Wing.
The application of electric wheel motors to this category of vehicle eliminates the conventional driveline including the transmission and differential, resulting in less complexity (gearing) and improved efficiency, which equates to greater run time per charge.
Since each wheel is independently powered and controlled, the vehicle can have better traction through two- or four-wheel drive, and most importantly, improved maneuverability and precision control—critical in the close confines of aircraft on the tarmac.
In addition, the development of compact electric wheel motors will potentially allow for their introduction on a wide range of commercial ground support and material handling equipment including forklift trucks and other warehouse vehicles.
We are pleased that the Air Force has selected us to further develop and integrate our electric propulsion systems in this category of vehicle. We are excited about the opportunity to apply the results of this project to not only aircraft support equipment but also to a broad range of commercial vehicles of similar size and weight.—Ron Burton, UQM Technologies, Vice President-Operations