PML develops revolutionary miniature powered wheel

24 October 2008

The PML Nano WheelAs ‘green’ grabs more headlines, so electric motors are being developed for ever widening fields of use. Hampshire based PML Flightlink Ltd has developed a revolutionary 15cm diameter motorised wheel that can power anything from scooters to wheelchairs and hospital trolleys.

PML has been designing and producing an extensive range of electric motors for well over 40 years. It has pioneered (amongst other things) servo motor engineering and flat armature technology. It has developed joysticks (used in the electric wheel chair industry) as well as a revolutionary wheel motor and a new range of brushless pancake motors.

These products are adapted to a variety of specifications and uses within different market sectors; such as defence, aerospace, motion control, processing, printing, instrumentation and test and measurement equipment.

Now PML’s revolutionary new Hi-Pa Drive and Nano Wheel brushless electric motor technology is breaking completely new ground. Hi-Pa Drive propulsion (whereby four PML brushless electric motors are integrated into each of a car’s four wheels, providing both power and full regenerative braking in the process) has already been fitted to and trialled successfully on the Mini QED.

And now Volvo has embraced the benefits of PML’s revolutionary Hi-Pa Drive technology and is incorporating the full QED system into its latest concept vehicle — the Volvo ReCharge. This was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. You can see a video of the car at the end of this article.

Cross-sectional diagram of the Nano WheelPML’s new Nano Wheel is a simpler (and far cheaper) development of PML’s Hi-Pa Drive technology. It revolutionises hub motor design and end-user friendliness across huge swathes of wheeled products. The 15-cm diameter Nano Wheel has its electric motor enclosed within its hub and costs just tens of pounds (depending on quantity supplied).

So, at little extra cost, PML’s new Nano Wheel will transform something you struggle to push or pull into something that can be power-assisted or fully powered. The Nano Wheel’s hub motor can have a power between 2 and 10 Nm (Newton metre) and fits within the wheel — which incorporates its own patented integral suspension system. This is part of the one-piece wheel injection moulding.

The Nano Wheel powered mini scooterThe Nano Wheel is compact, light and simple and has already been incorporated into a wheeled suitcase which is power assisted. PLM has developed a powered mini scooter with high-profile European partners including Peugeot and with support from the European Commission under the PRAZE project. The aim of the project was to improve the efficiency of the battery powered electric scooter, and create "personal zero emission transport for the city of the future”. An all new fully powered golf trolley that also benefits from regenerative braking is shortly to hit the market.

The Nano Wheel is particularly suited to health services for use in wheelchairs, theatre trolleys and even heavy equipment that has to be moved from ward to ward. It will save time and reduce physical strain on health service staff.

The Nano Wheels can either be power assisted (ie they cut in to assist when someone pushes the object) or be fully self-propelled. PML’s unique integrated control system makes operation straightforward and the motor’s inherent efficiency keeps battery consumption low. The advantages offered by Nano Wheel are numerous. Since there is no gearbox or drive shaft, it is compact and light, offering an exceptional power to weight ratio. For the same reason, it folds away better than a wheel connected to a drive shaft. And thanks to its direct hub drive, it has fewer moving parts, less friction and provides more power from a given battery source.

Video of the Volvo Recharge

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