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World premiere for racing car with steer-by-wire technology

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From left: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, Chief Technology Officer Schaeffler AG, Ernst Moser, Team Principal Phoenix Racing and Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, uncover the Audi R8 LMS GT3 fitted with Space Drive. (Photo: Schaeffler Paravan)

2019-06-26 | Nürburgring/Pfronstetten-Aichelau

  • Space Drive allows the Audi R8 LMS GT3 racing car to be driven without a steering column.
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer: “Motor sport is an ideal testing ground for this key technology for autonomous driving”
  • Roland Arnold: “System use under extreme conditions”

240 kilometers per hour over the start and finish straights on the Nürburgring without any steering column at all? The Audi R8 LMS GT3 fitted with Schaeffler Paravan’s Space Drive steer-by-wire system makes it possible. At the 24 Hours Nürburgring, Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG launched the first racing car of this kind to be approved by the DMSB (German Motor Sport Federation). The Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Space Drive and force-feedback steering, does not have any mechanical linkage between steering column and steering gear and will take part in the DMV GTC (Gran Turismo Touring Car Cup) in future.

“Motor sport is all about extremes, so it is common practice to bring technologies into play in this area. This calls for endurance, and enables us to check requirements and system features,” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and CTO of Schaeffler AG. “Motor racing is an ideal test environment for the ongoing development of the entire drive-by/steer-by-wire system based on Space Drive. With a view to the future of autonomous driving, these kinds of technologies are going to be indispensable. The test under motor racing conditions is an absolutely crucial prerequisite for readying these solutions for volume production.”

Stringent requirements on the speed
“In motor racing, the technology is tested under extreme conditions and also imposes stringent requirements on the speed and the responsiveness of the system. These provide the ideal conditions for refining and optimizing the system,” says Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG and founder and managing director of Paravan GmbH. “If you are able to keep to the ideal driving line and decelerate at 250 km/hour in a matter of hundredths of a seconds then this shows the reliability of the system.

For further development steps the company plans to take part in the DMV GTC. “Space Drive has never been used in motor racing, so there were a lot of questions to be answered about technology and security,” says Ralph Monschauer, organizer of the DMV GTC, who applied for race approval for the car. “The converted racing car was inspected by an officially appointed expert. We then got approval for test drives without timing at the Schaeffler Paravan Race Weekend.” On its very first appearance in the series, the converted Audi R8 LMS GT3 delivered an impressive performance. Outside of the official rankings, Markus Winkelhock was able to move up to fifth place in the two DMV GTC qualifying heats at the Schaeffler Paravan Race Weekend.

“In a racing car you have to react more quickly than in a road vehicle,” says racing driver Markus Winkelhock. “If the car swerves you have to be able to make very fast steering movements to the left and right. I was doubtful at first as to whether the motors could cope with these requirements. But it wasn’t a problem: the steering is unbelievably fast and unbelievably precise.”

“Roland Arnold and his team are always striving to add to their expertise and test the technology at its limits,” says Phoenix Team Principal Ernst Moser. “With our experience from motor sport we can make an important contribution towards this.”

Space Drive as the basis for level 4 and 5 autonomous driving
The R8 LMS GT3 is fitted with a special force-feedback steering wheel. The steering commands are no longer transmitted mechanically but within a matter of nanoseconds via cable – i.e. steer-by-wire – by means of electrical pulses. In the last 17 years, Space Drive technology has already proven effective over more than a billion accident-free kilometers. It is manufactured to the strictest quality and safety standards and approved for road use. The technology is designed with triple redundancy: If one steering component fails there are two back-ups that ensure that the system is absolutely fail-safe. This makes Space Drive an important key technology for Level 4 and 5 autonomous driving and a basic prerequisite for creating new car interior concepts. Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG aims to have the system ready for volume production by 2021.

Last weekend, the Schaeffler Paravan prototype wrote “North Loop” history at the 24 Hours Nürburgring. For the first time in the history of this venerable racing track the R8 LMS GT3 completed the North Loop with racing driver Rahel Frey at the wheel in a car without a steering column. The steer-by-wire R8 LMS GT3 will perform again at the next DMV GTC race at the Hockenheimring on 5 and 6 July.

Publisher: Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG
Country: Germany

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