The attention grabber on the stand 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.
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, which is the technology company’s conventional product, 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 – and thus supply invaluable data.
Electromechanical actuators, such as the active roll control system which Schaeffler has already put into production, will be able to provide data to the Internet of Things 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, 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, electrified generations of vehicles are a further point of focus for Schaeffler at the exhibition – 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.