The ROboMObil is an electro-mobility concept based on intelligent central control of four Wheel Robots, which integrate the drivetrain, brakes, steering and dampers. The integration of the vehicle dynamic actuation systems in the wheel vicinity is a relatively new development, and in recent years, several concepts and prototypes of this idea have emerged. Examples include the Michelin Active Wheel, Siemens VDO eCorner, MIT Wheel Robot , Volvo ACM and the Nissan Metamo system. In the case of Michelin, full size electrically powered vehicle prototypes (Heuliez Will and Venturi Volage) with the integrated wheel unit have been demonstrated. Some developments focussed on imparting the vehicle with the ability to rotate about its central axis or even to drive sideways, requiring extended steering angle ranges on all four wheels (e.g. Toyota Fine-X, Nissan Pivo II, MIT prototype with its Wheel Robot). This requirement of the extended steering angle on driven wheels necessitates the use of wheel-mounted drive systems and a certain degree of system integration into the wheel envelop. The ROboMObil makes use of the enhanced manoeuvrability offered by high steering angle range and in-wheel drive motors in the context of an autonomy-capable prototype vehicle.
Being a clean-sheet design, the ROboMObil explores the possibilities available for the future of mobility without the constraints applied by the modification of a conventional vehicle, making use of developments in intelligent systems from the field of robotics. With four mechanically independent modules, the ROboMObil allows the possibility of modifications to the chassis without affecting the powertrain, which is located completely in the two axle modules, with the actuators fully integrated within the Wheel Robots. The other modules are the body, which forms the structure of the vehicle and carries the cockpit, and the battery mounted beneath the cockpit floor. An intelligent robot control concept provides the ROboMObil with enhanced manoeuvrability.
The driver input can be given using a side-stick either from within the vehicle or via remote control. With the help of the integrated surround video cameras, the ROboMObil can be driven with various degrees of autonomy, from partial to fully autonomous. The modular design comprising the front and rear chassis modules, battery module and body module with cockpit makes ROboMObil an ideal technology platform for innovative vehicle dynamics control and energy management research, and a demonstrator for the fusion of robotics and electro-mobility. With energy efficiency becoming increasingly critical in all forms of future mobility, much attention has been paid to the energy supply of the ROboMObil. As well as employing state of the art Li-Ion battery technology, much effort is being put into modelling and estimation of the behaviour of the batteries.