A team of engineers over at Ohio University are aiming to combine what makes up the ingredients of a reliable electric car with something outside of a commercial carmakers’ laboratories.
The characteristics of the futuristic car, developed by Junmin Wang, will have no engine, transmission, or differential because each wheel will run on it’s own battery-powered motor. As each wheel turns independently, the car give drivers greater control and more freedom of movement.
“It would make a good in-city car — efficient and maneuverable, with no emissions.” said Wang, the assistant professor and director at Ohio State. “Our task is to make a robust control system to keep it safe and reliable.”
The car’s algorithms sync up with the wheels to give the driver a ride that runs smoothly and handles well. The vehicle is able to gather feedback from the brake, gas pedal, and steering wheel, as well as analyze data at 100 times per second. It will weigh half as much as a conventional car coming in at only 800 kg, or a little over 1,750 pounds- meaning developers will needs an exceptional traction and motion control system to keep it on the road.
Its no surprise that this experimental car and its unique components will require some seasonal drivers to adapt to a “four-wheel independently actuated” (FWIA) car with the ability to turn sharply and change direction very quickly. Drivers need to be aware and in control of acceleration in order to compensate for a motion-controlled system as well as maintaining a good level of safety.
“Without the controller, it’s very hard to drive. With the controller, it’s quite nice — quiet, and better control than commercial four-wheel drive,” Wang said.
Although the car isn’t the first of it’s kind, Wang promises that we won’t see the car for another 5-10 years as he and the team work on developing new algorithms to control a car with more efficiency and safety features than any other vehicle creation preceding it.