The carbon fiber experts of Lightweight have been busy this year working on incorporating advanced electronic systems into some already market-leading products. Besides their Smart Wheels sensors that we just showed you last week, Lightweight has also been working on a totally unique and possibly groundbreaking e-Bike called the Velocité Project. Developed as an academic and commercial cooperation under a Transform: Mobility into eXcitement grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the project was a response to a call to develop key technologies to address urban electro-mobility.
Lightweight coordinated the joint project through their technology development division CarboFibretec. The bike they presented at Eurobike is a proof of concept demonstration of a Pedelec using the newly developed tech. Read on to see what makes this machine unique and what applications it might have…
Instead of putting off-the-shelf motors, batteries, and control systems onto a new bike, the Lightweight-led team created an all-new ground-up solution. The end result eliminated the connection of a motor system to the bike’s drivetrain, by effectively making the rear wheel into an element of the motor itself. Including a ring of magnets where a braking surface usually sat (the bike uses disc brakes), the wheel actually becomes the motor’s rotor, being driven forward by a series of wound magnetic coils that make up the stator built into the enlarged wheel hugging seattube. This solution allows the inclusion of many standard cycling drivetrain elements.
The project was developed with five key partners, two from the commercial product sector and three academic engineering research groups:
- Trinamic Motion Control, a commercial motor control company developed the motor electronics and electronic control systems.
- Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology designed the battery cell chemistry and control chip architecture.
- At the Fraunhofer Institute for Transport and Infrastructure researchers worked on energy storage and the battery management systems.
- Engineers at the Technical University of Dresden’s Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology (ILK) oversaw bench testing of prototypes, computer simulation, and technical system design.
- The Lightweight team of engineers took the lead project coordination role through their sister company CarboFibretec to develop the frame and drive system, the overall design, to manage the development of the motor, component development, and component integration.
- 500W high speed pedelec (requires vehicle registration for on road use)
- exceeded the project’s sub 15kg weight goal (14.8kg/32.6lbs as it hung at the show)
- incorporates an all new magnetic DC motor concept
- works by magnetic flux between wheel (magnets) and frame (coil), as a typical electric motor would between between rotor and stator, respectively
- uniquely developed battery and control electronics
- fully integrated design concept into the complete bike
- allows incorporation of traditional bicycle tech, such as standard tires, brakes, Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, etc.
Although real world application seems a bit far fetched, based on a price tag we could not even imagine, Lightweight seemed to think the project was actually likely to take off. Based on the interest of the state in electric assisted mobility, as an alternative to fossil fuel based transportation, it is probable that funding for this sort of project will continue in Europe. The Lightweight engineer I spoke with also said that there had been interest expressed by a large international package delivery company in using the technology for urban center parcel delivery. From a corporate fleet perspective, something like this could be practical in the right application. We have seen in the past few years some interesting optimization of delivery services from companies like DHL, UPS, and even Amazon, and they have each looked at using alternative fuel delivery in certain markets.
Perhaps it isn’t too far fetched to think that e-Bike deliveries may become a reality in some markets in the very near future. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for carbon super e-Bikes delivering my packages!