Ricardo has unveiled a research prototype vehicle that demonstrates the company’s patent pending electromagnetic linear actuation technology.
Ricardo claims the technology offers a low cost route to ‘robust and highly efficient’ Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and dry Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) vehicles. Such vehicles are said to be capable of delivering increased fuel economy and lower emissions.
The development vehicle unveiled on 28 July is based on an Opel Corsa 1.2l petrol automated manual transmission in which the control and actuation system of the original Easytronic system has been replaced with Ricardo’s patent-pending electromagnetic linear actuator technology.
Ricardo further claims that the technology is sufficiently versatile and controllable that it can be multiplexed in order to operate the clutch control and gear selection functions.
In the research prototype vehicle the eAMT system demonstrated: two-pedal vehicle automation at low cost, owing to a significantly reduced parts count through use of a single electromagnetic actuator in place of separate clutch and gear actuator units; opportunities for reduced size and weight; and controllable actuator force of up to 800N peak and 350N continuous.
It also demonstrated a torque interrupt of as little as 0.35 seconds during shifts; and an advanced implementation of Ricardo AMT control software employing clutch ‘kiss’ point adaption techniques and DCT-like microslip control of a single dry-clutch.
While the vehicle was intended as a first step in proving the capability of this technology for an advanced, dry-clutch eDCT system, the transmission architecture of the eAMT vehicle represents a potentially attractive automated two-pedal solution for smaller (A/B class) vehicles in price- and/or manufacturing cost-sensitive markets.
Ultimately this research programme will see the implementation of this same technology in an eDCT transmission for a European C/D segment vehicle. With further IPR developments planned for the cooling of dry clutch modules, the dry-clutch eDCT system will aim to provide a high efficiency, zero torque interrupt transmission system that, based on the results of simulation and component testing, aims to provide a fuel consumption saving in the region of 5 per cent in comparison with a hydraulically actuated wet-clutch DCT, while also offering significantly lower manufacturing cost.
Lee Sykes, global product group director for driveline and transmission systems at Ricardo, said: ‘The advanced electromagnetic linear actuation technology in the eAMT vehicle shows huge potential for the practical implementation of next-generation transmissions in the automotive as well as the commercial vehicle and off-highway sectors. This is just one of the positive results of the eAMT research which includes the demonstration of next generation software control.’