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Fisker’s Orbit electric autonomous shuttle to feature Protean Pd18 in-wheel technology

Fisker Inc.’s Orbit autonomous electric shuttle, will feature Protean Electric’s in-wheel eDrive technology, specifically, the Pd18 system with peak torque of 1,250 N·m and peak power of 80 kW (60 kW continuous).

ProteanDrive motors use patented technologies, digital control, and are packaged with a friction brake. Designed to withstand 300,000 km vehicle lifetime, they deliver torque vectoring, 90-degree turn radius and a digital control platform that can support a range of AI and cloud-based services, including autonomous EV sensors, digital ABS, vehicle diagnostics and road condition data.

June 2018 Orbit 1

Fisker Inc. entered an alliance with China-based conglomerate, Hakim Unique Group, to develop an appealing autonomous shuttle for smart cities across the globe. The partners’ first joint project will include the design, development and integration of a Fisker electric, autonomous shuttle—the Orbit—into a Hakim Unique-implemented smart city.

June 2018 Orbit 1

Protean’s ProteanDrive is an in-wheel eDrive system selected by Fisker engineers to help optimize interior space and simplify powertrain integration. With the vehicle not featuring a steering wheel or pedals, the configuration enables the Orbit to comfortably carry passengers without the intrusion of traditional powertrain components.

The Fisker Orbit already encompasses breakthrough automotive technology, design innovation and exciting touches that will change the way urban populations think about short trip experiences. We selected Protean’s in-wheel powertrain technology to further deliver on those promises. The fastest path to fully autonomous vehicles—without a steering wheel—is through shuttles like the Orbit, and we’re excited to lead the charge into the future of mobility with such world-class, sustainable technology.

—Henrik Fisker, chairman and CEO of Fisker Inc.

The Fisker Orbit will be available in either two-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations, depending on customer needs. The company will begin testing prototypes of the vehicle with integrated Protean powertrains this year, while full deployments of the Orbit on a set route are scheduled for next year.



The wheel motors might work in this application.


This could become one of the early electric AWD/ADV mini-bus on the market place for dedicated routes.

If successful, it could be expended to larger e-buses by 2025 or so.


Insanely excessive power for this application. Look at Fisker's site: a vehicle concept roughly the size of a Sprinter that allows for standing passengers. Once you face reality and understand that top speed of 150km/h or more and 0-100km/hr acceleration in <7sec are beyond intemperate, the packaging "need" for in-wheel motors comes into question. A small 50kW e-axle front and rear with torque vectoring is plenty sufficient. and would not meaningfully affect internal space/floor height considerations.

Honestly the more I see of the "new" Fisker, the more I expect to be seeing trailers for Fisker II: The Liquidation in the near future.


You just need two in the back, the front does the steering.


SJC, yup, that's actually the most rational, since the running environment is unlikely to rquire AWD.


Sometimes common sense does not seem to apply in designs.


It depends on where it is running. Some heavy snowfalls in Canada and the Nordic countries, much of Eastern Europe etc.


The wheel motors are heavy, the unsprung weight may not matter with a 45 mph shuttle, but in a car they can affect handling.

Ing. A.S.Stefanes

Why always the complaining about weight? First of, we don't know how much it weighs. Seconds, just look at for instance a Rolls Royce, can you imagine how heavy those wheels/ brakes / tire combos can be in 21 inch. Yet they ride like nothing else. The weight really is not an issue, you just adjust the suspension accordingly.


It weighs over 80 pounds, engineers will tell you extra UNSPRUNG weight is not good.

Thomas Lankester

Protean has a whole slue of white papers about the 'unsprung mass' concerns and their packaging approach.

Bit proud as they are based out of my current home town and I've chatted to them at local EV events. They were well cheesed off to loose out on the drive train contract for the new London black cabs so hope this pans out for them.

Account Deleted

According to Protean the Wheel Motor weighs 36 kg or 79.4 lbs.
Unsprung weight is important to performance on a racetrack so Ford offers the Carbon Revolution carbon fiber wheels on the Shelby Mustang GT350R. So if you need to cut a few tenths of a second off your lap time at Le Mans (btw it's running this weekend), then do not use Protean Wheel Motors.
If you are interested in the impact of Unsprung weight due to the Protean motors they have a whitepaper on their web site at title "Unsprung Mass with In-Wheel Motors – Myths and Realities".


Of course they will say it does not matter, what do you expect them to say "you got us, it sucks"?

Thomas Lankester

But they did not write the papers.
You did check them out, right?


A couple of points.
The further from centre the weight as I.E. tyre, the more it contributes to rolling inertia which is costly in both acceleration and decel. This design is not bad in that respect.
The four motor setup would reduce the load to each so expect 300000k's at the same time maximising regenerative braking performance.
The large diam motor rotor helps simplify design and increase torque.
Unsprung weight is definitely of concern but suspension workarounds and slower speeds as in city work are not as demanding as for performance applications.
Since this is early for commercial? production there will likely be weight savings to be had with later gen. For now slowly slowly makes sense.

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