An Australian company is reinventing the wheel and plans to sell the technology to the world’s leading car companies.
Victorian-based Doftek has developed what it calls an active wheel alignment system (AWAS) which changes the angle of a wheel on-the-fly to deliver better cornering while also reducing fuel use, vehicle emissions and tire wear.
The company was on the verge of signing up one of the world’s biggest luxury carmakers before the pandemic and is hopeful of reigniting the deal in the coming weeks.
It claims the tech is lighter and less expensive than previous examples, making it more attractive to carmakers.
The system adjusts the camber (longitudinal angle), caster (longitudinal tilt) and toe (latitudinal angle) as the car is moving to better adapt to road surfaces, tire loads and driving styles.
The tech was developed by motorsport enthusiast and engineer, Geoff Rogers, and was initially designed to enhance grip by optimizing a tire’s contact with the road.
Lightweight components can be fitted to the front or rear of the vehicle and are compatible with various types of common suspension set-ups, including MacPherson strut, double-wishbone and multi-link units.
A three-mode selector switch gives the driver the choice of normal, sport and sport-plus settings.
The company claims a 15 percent increase in cornering performance, a 10 percent reduction in rolling resistance — reducing fuel consumption — and a 10 percent reduction in peak tire temperatures (improving tire life).
Engineers are already working on a more sophisticated second generation of the wheel that will be more dynamic and adaptive, delivering a claimed 30 percent improvement in cornering performance.
While luxury performance cars are the most logical target for early adoption of the active wheel, Rogers believes electric and self-driving vehicles are also ripe for the technology as it will improve battery life and provide self-steering solutions.
Victoria’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre is backing the project and its managing director, Dr. Jens Goennemann says Doftek is evidence that despite the demise of Ford and Holden’s local manufacturing arms, Australia’s automotive component sector is still globally competitive.