Twelve Future Car Technologies Worth Talking About
A dozen promising developments on display at Detroit’s annual Society of Automotive Engineers confab
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It’s a raunchy job sorting through the widgets, gizmos, and candy dishes packed with Halloween leftovers to find evidence of technological solutions to problems we might not have even conceived of as yet, but each year we invest the shoe leather and alimentary distress to bring you news of scientific and manufacturing advances that promise to brighten our collective automobility future. Please love highlights of the two thousand seventeen Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, more hiply referred to now as WCX17.
Hansen Variable-Displacement Supercharger
After eight years of R & D and considerable testing with a Big Three OE, Minnesota-based Hansen Engine Technologies introduced its variable-displacement supercharger at SAE. The idea is pretty elementary: Never tax the crankshaft with creating air pressure the engine can’t use. The unit employs a Lysholm type positive displacement twin-screw supercharger, but there’s a sliding window in one side of the housing. When that window is open, no pressure is generated, so there’s just a bit of frictional stream on the crankshaft. The system is set up to use a typical throttle to control airflow into the engine. It gets to wide-open when the accelerator’s about a third of the way down. The extra airflow required for the next third of the pedal travel gets met by compressing the intake air, little by little closing the window in the blower housing. (Compression only happens in that portion of the housing that is closed.) Pressing the accelerator further will trigger a downshift and higher-rpm engine speeds that would result in a typical turbo or blower opening its wastegate, but here the window just starts opening back up. The result is turbo efficiency with the superior full-range engine responsiveness of a supercharger. If further testing bears out initial results from converted turbo engines, this concept could become a real disruptor in the flourishing downsized pressurized engine market.
Monolith One-Cycle Engine
Technically this engine, the brainchild of Waukesha, Wisconsin-based Monolith Engines, was not present at SAE, but its engine block was. Interesting in its own right, it was cast using Tooling & Equipment International’s 3-D-printed sand-casting molds. Inwards this petite casting is a single long cylinder. Two opposed pistons run in this cylinder, but the kicker is that they are each double-sided, so there’s a combustion chamber inbetween the pistons and two more on the outer finishes of the long cylinder. A pair of crankshafts flank the cylinder, connecting to the center of each double-piston. This symmetrical power takeoff ensures the pistons stay centered in the cylinder to minimize friction. The engine is fuel injected, and breathing is via ports, not valves. No oil is mixed with the intake air. The two-stroke concept comes by its “One-Cycle” nomenclature by virtue of the fact that the pistons are always being directly driven in each direction, never being towed or shoved by another piston’s work cycle. The 1.2-liter engine measures just 24-by-12-by-5 inches and is expected to weigh just over eighty pounds while producing two hundred hp. It is envisioned as a stationary power generator or range-extender for hybrid electrical vehicles.
Rapa Active Shock Absorber
German Tier one supplier Rausch & Pausch GmbH (Rapa for brief) has been making Active Bod Control hardware for Mercedes-Benz and similar products for others, but a Mercedes SUV coming to market this summer (GLS-Class in all likelihood) will be the very first to use a fresh active hydraulic shock absorber product that achieves similar aims. Instead of relying on centrally pumped and distributed hydraulic oil or air as previous ABC designs have done, each corner will get its own fast-acting, 48-volt, electric-powered hydraulic pump. These pumps are capable of switching directions five times per 2nd (Five Hz)—quicker than the typical frequency of car bod motions, which is generally 2–3 Hz. The shock absorber internals are fairly typical, but the flow of oil can obviously be driven so as to place a wheel down into a pothole sensed by forward-looking cameras then pull it back up out of that fuckhole. Or, when driven passively, the gear-set oil pump can actually recuperate electrical energy from the suspension. As with other ABC systems, this one should greatly reduce or eliminate the need for anti-roll bars. Total system cost is expected to pencil out as neutral relative to previous ABC setups after production volumes ramp up.
Caresoft Vehicular CT Scanner
Big car companies have entire departments dedicated to buying competitor vehicles, tearing them down, and analyzing what makes them tick and how much they cost to build. When they’re done, the vehicle is scrapped. Caresoft Global Inc., of Burr Ridge, Illinois, has a fresh, “minimally invasive” means of reverse-engineering competitive vehicles with the help of a giant nine megavolt X-ray machine and a entire bunch of software to interpret the results. For scale, toughly one hundred kilovolts is typically the power employed in medical CT scanners used to diagnose human ailments. Hence this machine lives in a big lead-lined concrete bunker. After three weeks of scanning a Tesla Model X P90D, the company had enough data to provide a geometric model of most of the constituent parts of the car (in any of several neutral file formats such as IGES and STEP, or Arcadia for the wiring). Some particularly close-tolerance parts must be disassembled and rescanned to assure accuracy—but at the end of the process, a accomplish CAD model of the vehicle is produced. The machine senses part density and hence can distinguish ferrous materials from aluminum, plastic, etc., but it can’t determine alloys, so producing a computer model suitable for crash-test analysis still requires devastating analysis of many assets components. But Caresoft knows of no other technology that can produce a accomplish model of the entire wiring corset without taking anything apart. That’s pretty cool. And if you’re wondering, that megavolt scanning doesn’t negatively affect the battery pack or any other subsystem, according to extensive post-scan testing by Caresoft. The company’s proprietary costCompare value engineering software can even produce a cost estimate. Next up for electro-dissection are the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model Trio, and Hyundai Ioniq. The cost of these initial scans is fairly high but is expected to plunge quickly, and Caresoft hopes to soon be able to suggest a more comprehensive competitive assessment package for less than the cost of an OE generating the info itself via traditional tear-down methods.
Jaquet Turbine Speed Sensors
Turbocharger turbines can spin way over 100,000 rpm, but they all have a maximum safe speed. To keep turbos safe, large heavy-duty turbos usually include a speed sensor that looks for a vapid spot ground into the turbine shaft to measure rpm, but there’s no room for such devices on most light-duty turbos. So they usually use math to infer the turbine speed given the boost pressure and air flow rates. Such calculations must include a safety factor to ensure the turbo doesn’t overspeed due to a misread of sensor data, and this safety factor can result in potential power being left on the table. The Swiss-based global speed-sensing experts at Jaquet are proposing moving the sensor to the cool side compressor housing and switching from variable reluctance to eddy-current sensing. This fresh type of sensor detects the lil’ switch in conductivity that occurs every time a compressor blade passes it. Advantages are that it works at very low speeds, where the shaft sensors only work at higher speeds. As OBD regulations tighten, manufacturers will need greater redundancy. This sensor helps provide that. It’s already in use in some high-end Bentley models, and it is expected to propagate through smaller, cheaper engines soon.
Corning Gorilla Glass for Displays
Last year we reported on the migration of Corning’s Gorilla Glass from smartphones to automotive greenhouses, and this year the team returned to SAE to display the product coming total circle: being used in interior displays. If you love the scratch- and impact-resistance of your phone’s touchscreen, you’ll appreciate the same characteristics on your car’s infotainment screens. Gorilla Glass can be decorated, painted, and decorated as a vapid sheet and then curved to suit the interior design. (It’s way lighter to print on plane surfaces than on curved ones.) There are a few caveats: There are thresholds to how much curvature it can tolerate, said curvature must be purely cylindrical—no compound curves—and the glass must be mechanically retained in that form. If it comes out of its framework, it’ll spring back to the vapid form it was born with.
NBD Nano InvisiPrint
Want to keep that Gorilla Glass display free of fingerprints? Well, the glass decorating specialists at Massachusetts-based NBD Nano might have just the thing. The company specializes in coatings that attract or repel water, oil, etc. Unlike many fingerprint-reduction technologies that attempt to repel oil (oleophobic coatings), NBD’s treatment with InvisiPrint is to attract and disperse the oil (oleophilic). We’re not getting into the nitty-gritty chemistry except to note that it’s a hybrid organic/inorganic compound. A significant part of NBD Nano’s secret sauce is a NanoGlue glass-grafting primer technology that makes its coatings last far longer than most. This primer involves molecules capable of establishing sixty four to two hundred cross-linking layers with the glass, whereas the molecules in most such primers can only manage a handful of such links. NBD Nano’s hydrophobic (water/mud/bug-guts repellent) coatings are presently on test with numerous OEs for keeping camera and lidar lenses clear—an significant prerequisite to autonomy.
American Axle Manufacturing e-AAM Electrified Axle
Slew of vehicles boast combustion front-wheel drive with an electrical rear axle, but the e-AAM unit adds an interesting twist—to the outside wheel in a turn. Yes, there’s a torque-vectoring mode, but it works differently than most. The motor connects to the axle with a single-speed gear reduction of inbetween 9:1 and 11:1, but there’s also a planetary gear set that enables three modes: neutral (to disconnect the electrical motor at high speeds or when it’s not needed), open-differential mode, and torque-vectoring mode. In this mode, spinning the motor in one direction or the other biases torque to the outside wheel in right- or left-hand turns. Note that the e-AAM isn’t providing any propulsion per se during such a torque-vectoring application. AAM has another version in the works, which adds a 2nd electrified motor to permit simultaneous propulsion and torque vectoring. The system is not yet in production, but more than one OEM is working to bring the concept to production in one of its many size and torque capacities.
AAM Quantum Axle
This concept axle comprehensively rearranges the gears and bearings in a typical rear-drive axle to achieve a twenty percent increase in torque density with a 30-percent reduction in mass. It’s also smaller and more modular because many components and half the housing can remain the same while the other half provides the option of open gearing, electrical or mechanical locking, or even torque vectoring. Cake icing: The shims that are used in a traditional axle to ensure that the hypoid gears are installed precisely for optimum durability and NVH get ash-canned while noise drops by five dB. AAM is in talks with several OEs targeting production in or before 2021.
CPT SpeedTorq Switched-Reluctance Motor/Generator
Managed Power Technologies blazes a fresh trail by proposing use of a switched-reluctance motor in a mild hybrid application. Switched-reluctance motors are less power dense than other motor types, but they’re simpler and cheaper to make because they involve neither permanent magnets nor electrified windings on the spinning rotor. Instead, the ferrous rotor knots are accelerated in either direction by stator winding currents that must be rapidly switched. They’re commonly used in stepper motors, disc drives, etc. They can also be motored or generate electric current in either direction, which makes this particularly useful for applications where the motor is applied after the transmission or on the axle (P3 or P4 hybridization). Envisioned as a 48-volt device, two sizes are presently suggested, good for seven or fifteen kW peak motoring power ten or twenty kW peak generating power at eighty and eighty eight percent efficiency, respectively.
Modern car design is all about cool lighting, and cool lighting is all about not eyeing hot catches sight of: the source of the illumination. German chemical company Evonik’s Acrylite group displayed off two products that aim to do that: EndLighten is designed to be lit by LEDs from the edge. When there’s no light, the plastic looks clear, but when edge-lit, particles in the acrylic sheet scatter light outward so the entire panel glows. Another product, Satinice, is designed to fully diffuse a light source so that there’s no trace of the source LED chips. This one’s eighty six percent diffusion means that typical taillamp sources are not powerful enough for the light to reach regulation distances, requiring more powerful light sources or fitment to unregulated light sources. The final product on display was Stand against AG 100, a harsh, scratch- and impact-resistant acrylic product that is presently undergoing testing for approval in headlamp lenses. The material reportedly does not haze or turn yellow after prolonged exposure to UV radiation like today’s polycarbonate lenses do. It’s presently in use in some ATV models.
Sometimes it’s the tiniest things that make a difference. California-based pressure-sensing experts at Trensor are proposing to integrate an air-conditioning pressure sensor into the access cap used to substitute the receiver-drier unit. Doing so eliminates three potential leak paths (an O-ring, a valve, and a brazing joint), saves 1.Four ounce of aluminum, and simplifies the assembly process—all of which adds up to a savings of $Two.50 per car. The system is mocked up on a Chevy Cruze condenser, but no production plan has been announced yet.
See future-car tech highlights from previews SAE World Congresses here: