Customisable aluminium S2 skateboard chassis platform incorporates full propulsion and control system
The Silverstone-based electric vehicle developer launched its product to assist other organisations in developing different vehicle types at the Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) Cenex exhibition at the Millbrook proving ground in Bedfordshire yesterday (4th September).
The product will help automotive OEMs to accelerate the process of developing a vehicle, Delta says, and is fully scalable in terms of the size of the vehicle and production volume, although in the latter case a manufacturing partner will need to be identified.
“It can be anything from a small delivery van or a street sweeping vehicle up to a bus or truck,” Adriaan Gerber, director of consultancy Gerber Engineering and a contributor to the project told The Engineer at LCV Cenex. “The customer would just have to tell Delta what type of vehicle they are working on, and the skateboard would be designed and produced with the appropriate wheelbase.” Gerber, an expert in aluminium bonding, also worked on the Lightyear One prototype solar electric vehicle launched earlier this year.
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Delta chief executive and operations director Simon Dowson explained that the S2 project sprung from the company’s desire to demonstrate its platform master controller technology in an autonomous-ready system, marking a departure from its previous concentration on developing whole vehicles.
“Many companies are developing the artificial intelligence required for autonomous vehicles, but they do not necessarily have a vehicle capable of delivering their vision,” he said. “The flexibility of the S2 chassis and the integration platform master controller allow the delivery of multiple configurations quickly and at low cost.”
In general, companies developing autonomous and electric vehicle capability will start by purchasing a standard production vehicle and automating it to produce a test mule, Delta engineering director Nick Carpenter explained. Using the S2 instead will allow them to configure the unit to provide a much wider range of capabilities, he added.
The chassis on display at the Delta LCV Cenex stand represented six months development work, Gerber said. “Using this technology, a company could develop a full prototype in about nine months, which is far quicker than if they were developing the whole system from scratch.”
The S2 chassis takes control of interfaces with the battery system, charger, and all other high-voltage components. The integrated vehicle dynamics control system is capable of traction control up to a full electronic stability programme capability, and can be tailored for an “almost infinite range of drive, steering and braking system configurations,” Delta claimed.
The project has been funded under the auspices of Innovate UK and involved collaborations with Titan (which provided expertise in by-wire steering), Alcon (by-wire brakes), Potenza Technology (digital safety), Tecosim (computer-aided engineering), Cranfield University and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
If the client is looking for a small production run of up to 50 vehicles, then Delta could manufacture the chassis for them, Dowson said. “For anything above that, we would have to do find a manufacturing partner and construct a factory, but there will be nothing stopping us from producing thousands or even tens of thousands of units for larger orders with such a partnership in place.”