Röchling Advances Systems for Structures and Sensors
From battery protection to keeping sensors clean—Röchling is developing useful tech.
Rochling Automotive (roechling.com) has developed a number of technologies that are absolutely applicable to electrified vehicles, as well as to vehicles that have increased numbers of sensors, regardless of their level of autonomy.
For example, there is its integrated sandwich floor (ISF) that it has had available which combines acoustic, crash safety and stiffness characteristics by being made of layered, sandwich materials. Underneath the carpet in the cabin there is a sandwich material that is both 50 percent lighter and thinner than conventional approaches. They’ve developed what they call “Stratura Hybrid,” a lightweight composite material that is part of a structure.
For a given vehicle, there is the carpet on top of a microperforated aluminum sheet, then the composite, another aluminum sheet, and a stone-resistant coating that would be exposed to the road.
According to Vincent Mauroit, the company’s general manager of Innovation & Business Development, another benefit of the ISF is that it can provide electromagnetic protection. So taking this into a new direction, they’ve developed battery housings made with the sandwich material that provide crash energy absorption in case of an accident; the material is said not to break or splinter as it provides protection.
It is worth pointing out that one of the characteristics of electric vehicles that is far different than those powered by internal combustion engines is that because there isn’t the engine noise, road noise is all the more perceptible, so the ability to attenuate sound that is provided by the ISF is all the more important (although it should be pointed out that it works just as effectively for non-EVs, too).
And while on the subject of electrified vehicles, they are working on integrating a charging coil into the car’s underbody. In this arrangement, a vehicle would simply need to be positioned above a primary coil in the ground and inductive charging would occur. It is also being designed with a geometry that allows higher power charging for a given size vehicle. Röchling’s arrangement also uses an integrated metallic EMC cover so that there would be protection for other electronics in the vehicle during the charging cycle.
In the area of sensors, the company is addressing the need to keep the outer surfaces of the radar, lidar, cameras and so on clean. It worked with electronics company Helbako (helbako.de/en) in developing what—still a prototype—is called the “Advanced Active Cleaning System” (AACS).
Röchling has extensive experience in thermoplastic processing and the development of vehicular fluid tanks, such as those used for holding washer fluid.
In the case of the AACS, they designed a tank that uses an integrated control system and features a thermal management unit to optimize water temperature within the tank. There is the necessary hose system to provide the cleaning fluid to the various locations around the car where the sensors are located. The system is able to flow the water to clean the surfaces of the sensors as needed.
Notably, the AACS also takes into account the amount of fluid in the tank and then prioritizes which sensors to clean based on the driving conditions so as to help assure safe driving.
The engineers at Munro & Associates have taken a perfectly sound BMW i3 and taken it apart. Completely apart. And they are impressed with what they’ve discovered about how the EV is engineered.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
GM gives its mid-size pickup customers what they’ve been clamoring for, a clean and quiet, high-torque, fuel-efficient diesel.