At CES 2017 in Las Vegas next week, Rinspeed will unveil its Oasis autonomous electric concept vehicle. The two-seat runabout—somewhat reminiscent of a modern interpretation of famous Star Wars icon R2D2—can turn on its wheels with almost a zero radius due to a special steering angle, two in-wheel electric motors and torque vectoring, all developed by ZF on Lake Constance.
The “Intelligent Rolling Chassis” (IRC) from ZF offers a highly flexible platform for urban electric vehicles and features ZF’s all-electric drive based on the electric twist beam (eTB) rear axle. The aluminum electric motors at the rear axle are integrated with a single speed transmission that enables the Oasis to accelerate to 100 km/h in roughly nine seconds and, if needed, up to a speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).
The integration of ZF’s Electric Twist Beam (eTB) axle drive features a torque vectoring function at the rear axle, which assists the steering movements of the front axle—ideal for automatic parking in a single move even in the tightest parking spaces. The electro-mechanical steering systems in combination with an innovative dual control arm independent suspension design on the front axle make the Oasis incredibly agile. It boasts a turning radius of up to 75 degrees versus a typical turning radius of 50 degrees, making it an ideal vehicle for crowded cities where parking is at a premium.
The eTB also saves valuable installation space. Compared with conventional systems, the subframe and various axle components, for example, are eliminated, thus providing manufacturers with a great deal of additional design leeway in the center of the vehicle.
ZF technology enables this highly responsive vehicle control by networking the chassis actuation systems using an electronic control unit (ECU) housed within the IRC system. This unit can receive signals from multiple vehicle control systems—yielding advanced maneuverability for piloted or automated driving.
Further, the Oasis Human Machine Interface (HMI) solutions uses ZF technology in the form of its unique single spoke steering wheel with touch sensitive or gesture controls that replace traditional buttons and knobs.
The wheel rim itself is equipped with Hands ON/OFF Detection. Ten capacitive sensor fields can immediately detect whether, where and how the driver is touching the wheel, an important feature for safe automated driving. In addition, the sensor fields can be assigned diverse commands with corresponding triggering gestures such as turn signal indication or actuating the horn and infotainment systems.
|A single-spoke steering wheel concept with integrated Hands ON/OFF Detection (HOD) makes it possible to activate freely definable functions by touching or swiping the steering wheel rim instead of pressing buttons or turning knobs. Click to enlarge.|
The high tech wheel is also foldable—when automated mode is engaged this space can be converted as a tabletop for a tablet, PC or a keyboard that can be snapped into place. Of course the steering wheel can be quickly unfolded when moving back to manual mode, and the driver’s airbag, no longer housed in the steering wheel, is installed in the headliner above the front windshield—known as a bag-in-roof design.
Further enhancements to the interior include a unique seatbelt system integrating active seat belt technologies and anchor plate configuration enabling a “relax mode” when operating autonomously.