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InnoVative Flexible Electric Transport

Periodic Report Summary 2 - V-FEATHER (InnoVative Flexible Electric Transport)

Project Context and Objectives:
The EC Project V-Feather (Project Number 285727) presents a complete electric vehicle architecture vision on how urban light duty vehicles will be designed, built and run in the near future. This project is led by industrial partners with emphasis on energy efficiency, commercial viability, life cycle design and development of new technologies for LDVs steered by leading research institutes.
The vehicle is built around an active adaptive structural architecture that replaces the “platform” concept with a modular building block concept. The functional modules are part of the vehicle structure itself thus reducing the frame weight and add their own power and energy units which can be shared. This increases the payload capacity and the available power to weight ratio of the vehicle can be controlled.
As the weight distribution and structural integrity changes when a payload module is added or removed, active vehicle dynamics are incorporated through a modular actively controlled reconfigurable structure, collapsible body panels, active suspension modules incorporating in-hub motors and modular battery pack systems. A High-level control architecture controls the vehicle dynamics, active safety, power and energy requirements and driver interaction.
The specifications of these modular LDV are based on a radical new Deposit, Rapid Recharge and Recollect (D3R) system for urban freight, last mile delivery, freight security and tracking. The modular vehicle is able to drop off modules for delivery, recharging and collection later while continuing a freight run. This varying payload structure and vehicle footprint allows the LDV to function in the entirety of the supply chain run. Dynamic charging (while moving) can be carried out using available infrastructures. The D3R concept could theoretically allow 24 hour running without a single charge pause.
A complete prototype vehicle with a cab and payload module will be developed during the project to validate and test the new concepts.

The main project objectives are:

1. To Develop a LDV Architecture that is:
a. Light Weight
b. True Modularity
c. Adaptive
d. Flexible for Transportation in tight areas
e. Assists in Loading and Unloading
f. Energy Efficient
g. Zero Emissions
2. Development an urban freight transport chain organisation and management scheme.
3. Development of novel technologies and modular components
4. Development of the Prototypes
a. Integration of selected modular technologies
b. Demonstration of modular connectivity
c. Demonstration of Crashworthiness
5. Commercialisation studies
a. Green / lean manufacturing studies
b. Prototyping methodologies and interaction between industrial partners
c. Standardisation issues

Project Results:
During the second reporting period the work on concept design was finished. This led to the following concepts being selected for the V-Feather vehicle:
o Completed the concept design of the control system (D2.2 D2.9 and D4.6). One of the main outcomes of this is the selection of a hybrid bus architecture for the vehicle. A combined CAN-FlexRay network will be used. A layered control architecture has been developed which includes a hardware abstraction layer.
o Completed the concept design trade off study for the vehicle crashworthiness and included a more detailed evaluation of design concepts for side and pole impact cases (D2.3 and D2.8).
o Completed the concept design trade off study for the structural integration module concepts (D2.4)
o Completed the concept design of the mechatronic reconfigurable members (D2.5)
o Completed the concept design for the combined suspension/drivetrain/braking module through the inclusion of ECOmove’s suspension/drivetrain module into vehicle concept design (D2.6)
o Completed the concept design of the trailer attachment module (D2.7)
o Completed the layout design of of the energy storage and management system (D2.9)

Apart from this concept design, some detailed design and developments required for the detailed design have been initiated.
The V-Feather project was presented at 8 international conferences and fairs.

Potential Impact:
The main aim of the V-FEATHER concept is contribute towards the expected impact of the call topic which is to quantify and demonstrate that the resulting vehicle concept would achieve higher energy efficiency (at least 40% less in terms of primary energy consumption) with respect to best of class vehicles in the same category, while achieving a range adequate to the typical daily urban mission.

The V-FEATHER vehicle architecture incorporates several innovative technologies that would be able to achieve higher energy efficiency when working in unison. The S&T objectives section gives quantifiable targets set for achieving that impact target. The main approaches and steps taken to achieve those goals include:

Structurally integrated technologies:
Weight saving by omitting the frame: One of the straightforward ways to decrease power requirements and increase battery range is by weight reduction. With the “truly modular” the heavy frame can be omitted while retaining the strength of the vehicle on impact. Priority will be given to making the technology commercially viable and available to other OME producers.
Varying the power to weight ratio: Controlling the power to weight ratio means that the vehicle will have the optimal power for whichever freight payload is required. This will be achieved by the modular payload system where each of the payload modules will have its own power unit (in-hub motors) thus reducing the size of the main motors required (and the weight of the motors) to run the cab itself when without any payload.

Varying the energy to weight ratio:
A modular battery system will be developed by CCB which is also part of the modular control. This again means that the vehicle can shed the extra battery weight that it does not require when running light.

Control based technologies:
An adaptive vehicle that can vary itself to the driving conditions: The conditions of the driving cycle vary for each fright run. Having an intelligent control system that will change the behaviour of the vehicle adapting to road conditions, driving cycle, driver inputs and structural state allow control of these cycles. Both the power and energy requirements will be controlled by the high level control architecture which takes the active suspension state and active frame state under consideration as well. Sudden accelerations and decelerations can be avoided by controlled driving aids.
Variable Aerodynamics: Having an active frame system with a conforming body to it, the V-FEATHER can change the Aerodynamic properties of the system that will change to each payload and vehicle footprint.

Regenerative braking and Innovative Braking: will also part of the motor control developed by CCB.

The new light weight innovative braking system will be developed by CRAN D3R System based energy efficiency:
It is foreseen that through the D3R dynamic charging concepts, unused or wasted energy systems from the infrastructure may be used to charge the V-FEATHER vehicles. This will increase the energy efficiency based on cost of energy levels. The other impact is the driving cycle of the V-FEATHER vehicles and the infrastructure in which they will be operating. The impact of being able to run vehicles for 24 hours without a recharging pause is just too great V-FEATHER’s D3R concept allows modules containing separate battery packs to be deposed and charged up during transfer of delivery by rapid charging or mains electricity. This means that when the module re-joins the main LDV for collection, the battery pack is fully charged. This means that electric LDVs with this technology can have unlimited range in interurban multiple deliveries.
In many European countries at the first half of the 20th century, the idea of commuting long distances for work was something that was considered abnormal. However, with the introduction of multiple lane highways, high speed trains as well as increased scarcity of work, tides have changed.
It is rare today to work and live in the same town in today’s society. Increasing prices of traditional fuels, dedicated low emission zones and more viable alternatives can change the collective opinion in a similar fashion to the idea of commuting for work.
This could have positive impacts for European citizens. Uncertainty due to increase fossil fuel prices could be controlled if electric energy for the vehicles is produced from natural sources. Negative global impact by atmospheric warming would also be reduced. The quality of air in congested areas could in turn improve especially in advances in LDV technologies are adapted for personal and public transport