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Planetary gearbox in Mobi application of KU Leuven

In the student city of Leuven, like in all other cities, there is a lot of attention to the environment and quality of life. Because more and more people live in cities, the requirements for urban facilities and air quality are changing, which poses challenges. Postgraduate students from the Catholic University of Leuven who participate in the “innovative enterprise” program got a mobility challenge. They work on the Mobi, an electric vehicle for urban transport, whose control must be done by means of a joystick. Apex Dynamics delivered the planetary gearbox that is central for this control.

CORE team of KU Leuven

The Core-team of the KU Leuven focuses on two issues: energy monitoring and mobility, both within a sustainable framework. In this context, CORE developed the MobiOne program, which consists of two major problems. The first is the technical development of a prototype of an electric vehicle, the Mobi. This vehicle combines the footprint of an electric bicycle with the practical use of a car and has to function perfectly to meet the needs of users within the city. A second challenge is the development of a mobility program that investigates the smart implementation of the Mobi within the city. This takes into account existing technologies, but also looks at new models such as the sub-economics.

This program has been running for several years now and the need is becoming clearer. Cities are becoming increasingly chaotic and the current approach to mobility is no longer sufficient. The flow in a city should be as pleasant as possible, in reality it is often a frustrating activity. A first step in the MobiOne program is the development of a new city vehicle – the Mobi. A vehicle that combines the comfort of a car with the environmentally friendliness of a bike.

Mobi: Future of urban transportation?

The Mobi must therefore function perfectly in an urban environment. Thus the maximum speed is fixed at a fair 45 km/h. An electrical drive system can easily be energized during braking. In addition, the occupants themselves can generate energy by the existing pedals. This system operates completely autonomously and will not affect the vehicle speed. A smartphone app allows the user to adjust the pedal resistance. For example, more sporty types can choose a heavier setting than older people.

Also comfort is an important aspect of the Mobi. Stepping in and out is easy by moving the vehicle up and down. Both, pedals and chairs can be adjusted to anybody’s preference. This means that every user will feel comfortable from the first second and can make his/her journey completely without any stress.

Bringing knowledge into practice

In the past few years, a lot of time has been spent on developing ideas and making calculations. Upcoming academic year should be the major breakthrough of the Mobi. A test set-up is being developed for each sub-module by the end of the academic year. Once all these pieces of the puzzle have been collected, the final result can be realized.

“The Mobi is just one aspect of the whole process, which ultimately aims to create a new mobility concept. The focus is also on developing a new vision of mobility. However, this is still in an early stage and the search for suitable partners is in full progress.”

Innovation: stepless feedback by using a planetary gearbox

The control of the Mobi is done by means of a joystick. However, the overall width is limited to allow the controller to react continuously, so it was decided to provide this shaft with an accelerator for better feedback. The choice has been made for an Apex Dynamics Planetary Gearbox PGII040-020 which will act as an accelerator.

Unfortunately, due to lack of subsidy the project has been terminated by the Board of Directors, although the students themselves wanted to continue. However, there is a big chance that this joystick will still be put together to show on events later.

Too bad that this project has stopped, but it is good to realize that the new shift of Engineers think “out-of-the-box” and are not inhibited by traditional thinking or constructions.

Press release, juni 27 2017


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