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Motion control keeps electric car’s four wheels—and four motors—on the road

An experimental electric vehicle under development at Ohio State University is the only one of its kind outside of commercial automaker laboratories. Credit: Photo by Junmin Wang, Courtesy of Ohio State University It weighs half as much as a sports car, and turns on a dime—so its no surprise that the electric car being developed at Ohio State University needs an exceptional traction and motion control system to keep it on the road. Ads by Google #1 Computer Network Scan – Twice the Network Security at Half the Cost! Start a PureCloud Trial. – purecloud.ncircle.com With four wheels that turn independently, each with its own built-in electric motor and set of batteries, the experimental car is the only one of its kind outside of commercial carmakers’ laboratories. “It is considered one of the promising future vehicle architectures,” said Junmin Wang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and Director of the Vehicle Systems and Control Laboratory at Ohio State. “It would make a good in-city car—efficient and maneuverable, with no emissions. Our task is to make a robust control system to keep it safe and reliable.” In a paper in the January 2013 issue of the journal Control Engineering Practice, his team described the car’s ability to follow a specific trajectory. In tests on good road conditions at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, the car followed a driver’s desired path within four inches (10 cm). To test slippery road conditions, the researchers took the car to an empty west campus parking lot on a snowy day. There, the car maneuvered with an accuracy of up to eight inches (20 cm), and the vehicle traction and motion control system prevented “fishtailing” through independent control of the left and right sides of the car
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