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GM concept car gets drive-by-wire technology

General Motors has chosen drive-by-wire technology from SKF for use in its futuristic concept vehicle AUTOnomy, which combines fuel cells with drive-by-wire systems.

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General Motors has chosen drive-by-wire technology from SKF for use in its futuristic concept vehicle AUTOnomy, which combines fuel cells with drive-by-wire systems.

   With this new technology, all major vehicle control functions, including steering, accelerator and brakes, can be consolidated into a flexible, hand-controlled unit. The use of full electronic, rather than mechanical, linkages and controls creates a flexible control system that can plug into the single docking connection or port of the AUTOnomy chassis. This allows the use of different body styles and configurable driving and passenger positions. Without the burden of the required changes to traditional mechanical linkages and assemblies, designers can have unprecedented openness in vehicle architecture.

   Tom Johnstone, president of SKF’s Automotive Division, says the AUTOnomy’s innovative combination of fuel cell and by-wire systems marks the beginning of a revolution in automobile design and contributes to the protection of the environment and preservation of natural resources for future generations. “This combination of technologies means the car of the future will be safer, cleaner and more versatile than what exists today,” Johnstone says. “By-wire technology will, without a doubt, be an important part of the car of the future.”

   By-wire technology has a number of advantages. For example, the brake-by-wire system does not require brake fluid and can be readily integrated into vehicle control and safety systems. By-wire technology eliminates the need for both the steering column and the pedal assembly, freeing the driver’s area of these potentially dangerous structures.

   “Driver and passenger seat positions can be optimised for improved side-impact protection,” says Johnstone, “and with no front-end mounted internal combustion engine and no steering column or foot pedals, the severity of frontal impacts can be greatly reduced.”

   At the heart of SKF’s drive-by-wire systems are the company’s smart electro-mechanical actuating units that translate the driver’s commands into action while providing continual dynamic feedback. Ball or roller screws convert from rotary to linear motion. Compact electric motors and gearing systems provide the power. All systems have built-in redundancy and a back-up power supply similar to those used in fly-by-wire systems.

 

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