General Motors scientists demonstrated breakthrough developments in smart materials technology at a media briefing today at GM’s Research and Development Center.
Shape memory alloys and polymers are examples of types of smart materials that GM is developing for use in its products. Smart materials can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage are introduced. Shape memory alloys, and polymers in particular, “remember” their original shape and can return to it, opening new possibilities for many movable vehicle features.
GM is targeting to integrate smart materials technology into its vehicles by 2010.
Actuators and sensors made from these materials have the potential to improve vehicle performance and fuel economy, and enable new comfort and convenience features. These actuators and sensors can provide significant benefits when they are used to replace conventional motorized or hydraulic devices by reducing vehicle mass, component size and complexity and improving design flexibility, functionality and reliability.