Multi-speed electric hub drive wheel design

Woodard, Timothy Paul
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Advances in electro-mechanical actuation have encouraged revolutions in automobile design which promise to increase fuel efficiency, reduce costs, improve safety and performance, and allow a wider range of architectural choices for the vehicle designer and manufacturer. This is facilitated by the concept of an intelligent corner (IC). The IC consists of traction, steering, camber, and suspension actuators working together to control the forces generated at the wheel/surface interface, allowing complete control of vehicle motion with completely active, as opposed to passive, systems. The most critical actuator to the longitudinal performance of an IC vehicle is the traction system, envisioned in this case as a hub mounted electro-mechanical actuator connected directly to the wheel. This traction actuator consists of a number of primary and supplementary components, including a prime mover, gear train, clutch, brake, bearings, seals, shafts, housing, etc. The consideration of these components in the design of an in-hub electric drive actuator is the subject of this report. Currently, gear trains are used in automobiles to match the operating speed of an internal combustion engine (ICE) to the speed of the vehicle on the road. The same need is anticipated for the hub drive wheel, although with fewer reduction ratio choices due to the responsiveness of the electric motor. Specifying a gear train design includes selecting a gear train architecture, and designing the gears to handle the expected loads. A review of gear design and gear train architectures is presented. A number of electric machines are used in industrial, and now more commonly, vehicle applications; of these, the switched reluctance motor (SRM) represents an excellent candidate for a vehicle prime mover due to its ruggedness, broad torque speed curve, low cost, and simplicity. Integrating the motor and gear train into an electro-mechanical actuator with multiple speeds requires consideration of other ancillary components. Brief design guides are presented for clutches, brakes, bearings, seals, and the structure for the in-hub wheel drive. Given the analytical descriptions of the drive wheel components, methods for managing the numerous design parameters are developed and expanded. Actuator specifications are chosen based upon meeting various vehicle performance requirements such as maximum speed, gradeability, acceleration, and drawbar pull. A proposed parametric drive wheel design is presented to meet the requirements of a generic heavy vehicle. The design demonstrates the feasibility of actuator technology that can be used to increase the performance, maintainability, and refreshability of hybrid electric vehicles while allowing open architecture paradigms to lower costs and spur new levels of manufacturing and innovation.