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Siemens VDO Making a Case for In-Wheel Systems: the eCorner Project

eCorner. The wheel rim (1) remains the same. Beneath is the wheel hub motor (2). Braking is via electronic wedge brake (3). The active suspension (4), like the electronic steering (5), replaces the conventional hydraulic system.

Siemens VDO engineers are working on plans to integrate the motor, steering, shock absorbers and brakes directly into the wheels of future cars.

The eCorner concept replaces the conventional wheel suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers, mechanical steering, hydraulic brakes and internal combustion engines with integrated in-wheel systems. Siemens VDO says that although it will naturally continue to invest in optimization of conventional internal combustion engines in an effort to completely exhaust their potential, its focus for the future is on these in-wheel systems.

Hybrid drives are only an intermediate step along the path to future propulsion solutions. We consider the electric motor to be the actual long-term drive solution for fulfilling even the most stringent emission laws of the future.

—Dr. Klaus Egger, Group Vice President of Siemens VDO Automotive

Siemens projects that wheel hub motors will be able to use up to 96% of the provided electrical energy for vehicle propulsion. This will make it much easier for automobile manufacturers to satisfy emission regulations and while simultaneously offering extremely dynamic vehicles with excellent fuel economy.

Suspension, steering and braking. While complex mechanical wheel suspension systems with oil-pressure spring elements currently ensure a comfortable ride for the passengers and permanent, reliable contact with the road, electronic circuits will play an increasingly significant role in the future.

Within eCorner, electric motors will take over the task of ensuring contact between wheel and road. With this new suspension, hydraulic steering can be eliminated, giving automakers new degrees of freedom. Each individual wheel will be able to be moved to its own specific steering angle.

When the speed is reduced, the wheel hub motors act as auxiliary brakes using a generator effect. The energy reclaimed in this manner can be used to charge the vehicle battery. Finally, in addition to the generator brakes, the electronic wedge brakes (EWB) can decelerate each wheel separately with maximum precision and enormous braking power to match the need of the driving situation.

Siemens VDO believes that the series production of its electronic wedge brake (EWB—earlier post) will be an important milestone on the way to realizing eCorner.

The greatest intermediate step toward eCorner will be an integrated electronic shock absorber and steering module expected sometime during the next decade, according to Siemens.

The combustion engine won’t have to disappear completely for the time being, the company says—it will be able to provide the necessary electrical power for flexible long-distance vehicles.



Some things should just be done the old-fashioned way ...


Let's sell these units to people who want to convert their cars to hybrids. Just enough power to get to 30 mph, and a small battery pack. When the car uses its gasoline engine, the regenerative braking can be turned on to suck power out of the wheels to recharge. Remember, discarding all our existing cars for new electrics will itself be an environmental nightmare.

Mark A

Interesting ideas/developments. Mitsubishi also is working on a similar concept with its Miev system, but with conventional steering and braking. That would be much closer to mainstream production.

But with this system, one could essentially bolt four of these at the four corners of a box, and with the appropriate hardware and software, create a vehicle. Could open up many variations on vehicle designs.

Roger Pham

Super390--You have a superb idea! Put these on the rear wheels and a small battery in the trunk, and add a larger starter/generator coupled to the engine while yank out the old starter and the old alternator, and Bingo, you've just built yourself a hybrid with the most efficient and the simplest 4WD capability, great for wet, ice and snow road surface. Use a smallish light-weight and low cost CVT on the front engine only, and let the generator and motor handle half of the transmission load. This will beat Honda IMA scheme hand down, and may even come close to Toyota HSD.

Dev DuRuz

Check out this Virginia Co. - they introduced a similar concept about 4 years ago. They are in production of bicyle versions now and have several vehicle projects under development as joint ventures.

Joseph Smith

we at critical advanced research a energy frontier research company have in development a next - generation revolutionary Breakthough in advanced vehicle propulsion we have a first of a kind innovative regenerative powertrain.

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