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How New Technologies Are Revolutionizing Racing

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How New Technologies Are Revolutionizing Racing
How New Technologies Are Revolutionizing Racing

Video: How New Technologies Are Revolutionizing Racing

Video: How New Technologies Are Revolutionizing Racing
Video: How Data Has Revolutionized Racing - Hitachi 2023, May

construction practice: Mr. Prochno, what role does motorsport play for Lee?

Jürgen Prochno: Racing, especially Formula 1, is characterized by extreme technological competition. Each team tries to maintain its own lead or to reduce its backlog by constant further development. In addition, numerous rules changes are decided by the "World Motor Sport Council" of the sports association FIA for each new season.

Picture gallery

We are an innovation-driven company that started 70 years ago as a manufacturer of hydraulic components for the aerospace industry and meanwhile serves numerous other markets with solutions that meet the highest demands in terms of performance and functional reliability. That is why racing is an ideal test field for us.

construction practice: And in which racing series is your company currently involved with hydraulic components?

Prochno: We are an active development partner, especially in Formula 1, but also in Formula Student. Racing vehicles have very sophisticated technologies such as adjustable rear or front wings, which have to react to control commands within a very short time due to the extreme speeds.

Of particular importance was the so-called DRS (Drag Reduction System) technology for the rear wing of the Formula 1 racing car. DRS is the name given to a trick in which the driver adjusts the inclination of the rear wing on straight routes in order to reduce air resistance and thus increase the vehicle's ability to accelerate for an overtaking maneuver.

However, this trick was banned in the 1960s for safety reasons because the lowered rear wing reduced the downforce of the vehicle. This has a negative impact on road grip in curves and can lead to a ride if the driver loses sight of the overtaking maneuver and fails to raise the rear wing in good time.

construction practice: And this trick has now been allowed again?

Jürgen Prochno, General Manager Lee Hydraulic Miniature Components
Jürgen Prochno, General Manager Lee Hydraulic Miniature Components

Prochno: Well, there has been considerable progress in the areas of sensors, electronics and in-vehicle data processing since the 1960s. Today, these make it possible to narrow down the boundary conditions for a DRS maneuver so precisely that the risks can be better managed. In any case, the FIA decided one of the most drastic changes to the rules in recent decades in 2011, when it overturned the regulations regarding both the previously permitted front wing adjustment and the rear wing view.

While the rear wing adjustment was allowed again, actively adjustable front wings came under the spell. The aim of this reversal of the previous regulations was to enable more overtaking maneuvers and thereby make the racing series more attractive.

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construction practice: How exactly does the DRS system work?

Prochno: DRS maneuvers are not permitted on the entire course, but only in the so-called DRS zones of certain straight sections of the route and only if the driver is behind a person in front for a certain minimum period of time. This is monitored by sensors. Decisive for the execution of a DRS maneuver is a very quick and only short-term lowering of the rear wing.

Because this must be at the top again when the next curve comes.

construction practice: And what could Lee contribute to DRS technology?

Prochno: We have developed special controls for this. The leaf is moved by a hydraulic actuator with a large diameter that has to react very quickly. For the control, Lee developed a special 12-volt DC version of a 3-way high-pressure solenoid valve that is used as standard in aircraft.

These so-called 250 valves combine high tightness with enormous reliability and set new standards in reducing space requirements, weight and energy consumption.

construction practice: Lee is also involved in Formula Student. What is the special attraction there?

Prochno: The Formula Student is a special environment because there is more space for experiments and space for new concepts due to the less strict regulations.

The young participants provide a welcome breath of fresh air with their ideas and initiatives. With the development of the industry towards autonomous driving, for example, the idea of a Formula Student Driverless competition was born three years ago.

construction practice: Who is your partner in Formula Student?

Prochno: In this area we support the team of the Berlin University of Applied Sciences, which took part in such a competition for the first time in 2018. The previous combustion concept was retained and supplemented by an autonomous system with expanded electronics and sensors as an adaptive solution.

The goal was a racing car that could take part in the normal competitions with a driver as well as in the new driverless competition without a driver. Only the most important components should be replaced.

Micro valve

Miniature hydraulics help racing cars with autonomous driving

construction practice: And what was Lee's contribution to this project?

Prochno: In addition to sensors and algorithms, solutions for actuating the clutch, brake and steering system also had to be found, which had to meet strict requirements with regard to weight, installation space and functionality both with and without a driver.

The solution was a hydraulic system that was optimized to operate these three assemblies when used in a racing car. This system is structured as follows: A pressure reducer, a proportional valve and a three-way solenoid valve from Lee are installed on the clutch to build up and regulate the clutch pressure. A shuttle valve, also known as a shuttle valve, also enables the clutch to be operated manually with the hydraulic system installed.

construction practice: Have there been any further optimizations to the Formula E vehicle?

Prochno: In order to meet the high demands, particularly small miniature hydraulic components from Lee were used. In combination with a 3-D printing process for the manufacture of the hydraulic block, the weight of the hydraulic system was reduced by 10 kg or 50 percent of the original value.

Shorter conduits and the integration of some additional valves also made it possible to gain performance in response.

construction practice: How complex was the production of the components?

Prochno: The brake valve block was manufactured from AlSi10Mg on a M2 Cusing laser melting system using the Powder Bed Fusion process, or PBF for short, in just one day. The total printing time was about one day. The high-precision fits for the valves, which cannot yet be manufactured in additive manufacturing, were then milled and drilled using a CNC machine.

After inserting the setbacks, closing the holes with the help of Lee Plugs and inserting the valves, the valve block was already fully functional. The few remaining connections increase the ease of maintenance and thus minimize the maintenance times of the system.

construction practice: Does the system have an essential unique selling point?

Prochno: Thanks to the compact design, the module is located in the front area between the pedals and the front end of the chassis. The HTW developers were the first Formula Student combustion team in the world to pass all technical acceptance tests and were able to start in the various disciplines of Formula Student Driverless 2018

Virtual reality

Haptic feedback thanks to microfluidics

construction practice: Do you also offer solutions for normal road vehicles?

Prochno: Of course. For example, a very sophisticated brake control system from Airback, which was developed in 2015. Brakes have two conflicting requirements that relate to the distance between the brake pads and the brake disc. If the distance is too large, the braking effect does not start until a delay in an emergency, which increases the risk of accidents.

On the other hand, if the distance is chosen too narrow, the brake slows a little even when fully open, which increases fuel consumption as well as wear. The braking system developed by Airback can cover both cases.

construction practice: And which component comes from your house?

Prochno: It is designed as an additional system to the existing brake system, using a three-way HDI solenoid valve from Lee. The system uses positive and negative pressure as well as vacuum. When the vehicle accelerates, Airback creates a negative pressure in the hydraulic system, which virtually pulls the brake pad away from the brake disc, thus largely eliminating friction on the brake discs.

When the brake is actuated, on the other hand, a defined overpressure is generated again at lightning speed so that the brake pads are already applied to the disc before the actual braking pulse comes from the brake system. According to the Airback, this not only results in a quicker braking effect, but also a shorter pedal travel of the brake pedal. construction practice: Thank you very much, Mr. Prochno.

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