Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0746

A Virtual Driveline Concept to Maximize Mobility Performance of Autonomous Electric Vehicles 2020-01-0746

In-wheel electric motors open up new prospects to radically enhance the mobility of autonomous electric vehicles with four or more driving wheels. The flexibility and agility of delivering torque individually to each wheel can allow significant mobility improvements, agile maneuvers, maintaining stability, and increased energy efficiency. However, the fact that individual wheels are not connected mechanically by a driveline system does not mean their drives do not impact each other. With individual torques, the wheels will have different longitudinal forces and tire slippages. Thus, the absence of driveline systems physically connecting the wheels requires new approaches to coordinate torque distribution. This paper solves two technical problems. First, a virtual driveline system (VDS) is proposed to emulate a mechanical driveline system virtually connecting the e-motor driveshafts, providing coordinated driving wheel torque management. The VDS simulates power split between driving wheels. Conceptually, VDS is founded on generalized tire and vehicle parameters. Generalized slippages are utilized to determine virtual gear ratios from a virtual transfer case to each wheel. The virtual gear ratios serve as signals to the electric motors. Secondly, a new velocity-based mobility performance index is used as the ratio of the actual velocity of a vehicle, with individual wheel management, to the theoretical velocity of the same vehicle equipped with a mechanical driveline without controllable gear ratios. Using the index as the objective function, a maximization problem of vehicle mobility is formulated and solved. Optimal virtual gear ratios are determined for maximal mobility in a given terrain condition. Simulations of a 4x4 tactical vehicle in stochastic soil conditions demonstrated a 17% increase in mean values of the velocity-based mobility performance index when the vehicle is electrically driven by the optimal virtual gear ratios as compared to the mechanical driveline system with non-controlled differentials.


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