Schaeffler on track to become a mobility supplier
1/4/17 / Schaeffler
From automotive to mobility supplier: Schaeffler is putting solutions for Mobility for tomorrow and change at the center of its exhibition presence at the Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2017. 'We are showing how the visions for autonomous driving, electrification and networking can be made a reality,' says Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer. 'The automotive industry is undergoing a dramatic change in which we are playing a role as a development partner.'
The attention grabber is Schaeffler's bio-hybrid, a compact mobility solution for urban areas. This covered mini-vehicle offers more than just protection from the weather: Its four wheels provide high driving stability, and with a length of only just over two meters and a width of 85 cm, it occupies very little space. Propulsion is via an electric powertrain designed by Schaeffler. 'The mobility requirements in rapidly expanding urban areas will change in the future,' explains Prof. Gutzmer. 'It is not enough for us just to produce abstract sketches of our visions. Our ready-to-go prototypes show that we have the capability to make actual products.'
Schaeffler is also addressing the change which is happening at the component level and is presenting its contributions to the field of digitalization. The rolling bearing is becoming a sensor for the networked automobiles of the future. Sensor coatings incorporated in the bearings at a microscopic level will allow them to measure torques, revolutions, forces and temperatures in the future. 'The automobile will become part of the Internet of Things,' according to Prof. Gutzmer. 'Our sensor bearings, which are being fitted wherever components move and forces occur, provide drivers, fleet managers and garages with first-hand data.' Electromechanical actuators, such as the active roll control system which has already put into production, will be able to provide data in the future. The active roll control system compensates movements in automobile chassis caused by driving around corners or on uneven road surfaces. When combined with intelligent wheel bearings, a high-accuracy satellite navigation system and a communications module, it may, in the future, it could be possible to produce a real-time image of the condition of the road. This could then be used to send information to vehicles following behind or to the infrastructure operator.
Transmissions for future vehicles are a further point of focus for Schaeffler - for example in self-driving taxis which can navigate their way through cities autonomously. In this case, all the drive components, with the exception of the battery, are located within the wheel. This makes it possible to have automobiles which have an extremely good usable space/footprint ratio whilst at the same time offering excellent maneuverability. 'The urban spaces of the future will require the smallest possible traffic footprint with the maximum mobility,' says Prof. Gutzmer. 'Innovative drive concepts such as the wheel hub motor make new types of mobility possible and are extremely significant components as far as digitalization is concerned.' The level of electrification in conventional vehicles is already increasing.
'At CES, we are once again showing how Schaeffler's recently unveiled strategy Mobility for tomorrow is now becoming a technical reality,' explains Prof. Gutzmer. 'At the same time, we are open to new partnerships with start-ups who are looking for a partner to work with to make their future mobility ideas a reality as well.' Schaeffler is putting a great deal of effort into expanding its research and development network and is putting particular emphasis in this area on digitalization. Just in October 2016, the mobility supplier announced a far-reaching collaboration with IBM which will see the development of new technologies and business models for the digital age.