Autonomous vehicles built for the road demand safe, reliable braking systems, so when the TUfast Eco Team – about 40 students from the Technical University Munich – developed their first car with autonomous driving capabilities, they needed a motor-powered brake to stop safely.

The team built the UrbanConcept car muc018 to participate in the 2018 Shell Eco-marathon Europe competition. Competing in the Urban Concept category required that the car be made to drive in cities, offer space for luggage, be equipped with lighting, and have an upright seating position. The realistic use-scenario requirements made the 2018 challenge more complicated than earlier contests in which vehicle designs were barely larger than skate boards. The vehicles’ autonomous components are completely modular, therefore, they can be removed during the regular competitions.

The event’s various challenges included a drive on the efficiency track where the maxon-powered brake had to safely stop the vehicle. Another competition where a well-functioning brake is critical was during the parking challenge. That required detecting a blue parking block with a parking area in front of it. The car then had to navigate to this area and come to a full stop as close to the block as possible. TUfast Eco team was the only team to successfully complete this challenge, because the parking block was located on a piece of the track going downhill.

The brake system was based on a maxon RE-motor with attached ceramic gearbox that pulls the brake pedal. RE motors allowed for complete removal of the autonomous system for the efficiency challenge where low weight was key. An Escon controller provided power and precise speed control to the motor. Team members could easily tune the drive and integrate their own real-time computer.

maxon motor

High-power piezo driver

The E-619 high-power piezo amplifier drives high-capacitance multilayer piezo actuators with rapid rise times or high frequencies.

Providing sink/source currents up to 10A and output voltage swings of 160V-pp (-30V to 130V), the piezo driver delivers up to 1,200W of power. A temperature sensor input prevents overheating.

Piezo actuators’ microsecond response times are suitable for fast switches, valves, micromachining and microdispensing equipment, active optics, and vibration cancellation applications.

The piezo driver comes in two versions with a maximum bandwidth of 20kHz and 3kHz. Closed-loop position servo control and digital control via a USB and TCP/IP interface are optional upgrade modules.

PI (Physik Intrumente) LP

Industry 4.0 vacuum lifter

The piLIFT Smart vacuum lifter uses smart data based on Internet connectivity to lift and weigh loads simultaneously to collect and log data. Process statistics and analyses are immediately accessible to the user through web platform log-in.

By simultaneously reducing the load on the operator’s body by more than 80% and optimizing productivity, the vacuum reduces the risk of staff injuries.

It consumes 76% less power and can lift objects weighing up to 90 lb. Other features include minimal sound levels, and smart data features for quick vacuum lifting.