Protean has developed universal automotive modules that provide 360-degree rotation of wheel systems.
Each unit includes a hub motor, rim, tire, and a miniature double wishbone suspension system with a damper mounted in the steering arm that can rotate the entire unit 360°, as well as pneumatically raise and lower the chassis above it.
According to the developers, the presented system is intended for unmanned urban transport, where space, efficiency and compatibility with autonomous control systems will play a major role. Placing such models in the corners of the electric vehicle platform, on it can anchor roomy cabin for passengers.
The possibility of full wheel rotation will allow vehicles to easily move sideways, entering narrow parallel parking spaces, or turn around on the spot. When stopped, the system will be able to descend to ground level to make it easier for people to enter and exit..
In the existing block model, the hub motor has 80 kW (107 hp) and 1250 Nm of torque per wheel. Obviously, 320 kW (430 hp) is too much for a driverless passenger bus capable of side-to-side acceleration., although they can simply be replaced with less powerful versions. Also embarrassing are the elements similar to electrical cables that would be exposed to rocks, sand and road dirt..
Two weeks ago we reported a similar modular solution from REE, but there Israeli engineers focused on maximum compactness and flexibility as they targeted high performance and commercial vehicles. While Protean’s development looks less impressive, pneumatic lift and 360-degree rotation may indeed become the most requested features of self-driving cars..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Protean