In-wheel motor pioneer Protean Electric has introduced a new ‘corner module’ concept that integrates a vehicle’s powertrain, steering and suspension within a single product. The new Protean360+ module offers a limitless 360-degree steering capability combined with suspension, pneumatic ride-height control, and a ProteanDrive in-wheel electric motor.
The 360-degree steering capability is made possible by a patent-pending rotating interface that sits above the corner module’s main arm. The top of the rotating interface is fixed to the vehicle and the lower interface is fixed to the module arm.
From the lower rotational interface, control cables for the motor, hydraulics, and pneumatic ride height controls are channeled down the module arm and are connected to a second static interface within the hub and into the wheel motor unit. As the arm module rotates through 360 degrees, the full component set rotates with it. As a result, the connections and cables are not twisted or stressed.
The ProteanDrive permanent-magnet synchronous motor includes an integrated inverter and a dedicated liquid cooling circuit, all tightly packaged within the wheel rim. A friction brake disc and caliper are packaged in the wheel with the ProteanDrive motor, complementing its regenerative braking capability.
The rotor of the electric motor connects directly to the hub, delivering torque from the motor to the wheel and eliminating losses in power transfer. The motor features an outer rotor to maximize torque. This outer rotor configuration allows the rare earth magnets to be surface-mounted without retention, features that would otherwise compromise performance. Each ProteanDrive Pd18 motor (designed for 18-inch wheels) develops 1,250 Nm (922 lb-ft) peak torque and 80 kW (107 hp) peak power.
“Transport-as-a-Service urban mobility is gaining momentum, and with it the need for a new class of urban transport vehicles,” said Protean Electric CEO KY Chan. “These new vehicles will require new technologies to be fit for purpose. The Protean360+ corner module was born from our team’s innovative thinking about how to meet the requirements for these next-generation urban vehicles.”