Victorian-based company Doftek has developed a world-first Active Wheel Alignment System (AWAS) for passenger vehicles. This system allows the vehicle’s wheel alignment settings, such as camber (longitudinal angle), caster (longitudinal tilt) and toe (latitudinal angle), to be adjusted on-the-fly to maximise handling performance, improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and minimise tyre wear.
The system is the brainchild of Doftek’s inventor, Geoff Rogers. A vehicle enthusiast at heart and engineer by profession, Geoff took his passion for motorsport and channelled it to the development of a system to enhance driving enjoyment and reduce running costs of production vehicles by optimising a tyre’s contact with the road.
Designed and engineered over two years, Doftek’s AWAS addresses many shortfalls of previous attempts that were heavy, expensive, and incompatible with existing production vehicle suspension geometries. Doftek’s AWAS addresses these issues and can be fitted to the front or rear of the vehicle. It is lightweight, compact, and suitable for fitment to MacPherson strut, double-wishbone and multi-link suspensions systems.
Version one of Doftek’s AWAS allows for on-the-fly adjustment of wheel alignment via a three-mode selector switch, offering Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes with the corresponding 0-degree, -1.5-degree and -3-degree camber to suit different driving conditions. This system has been extensively developed and tested, and provides at least: 15% increase in handling performance; 10% reduction in rolling resistance; and 10% reduction in peak tyre temperatures. With support from AMGC, Doftek is now working on the second version of its system, which will offer next-generation dynamic (semi-active) and adaptive (real-time) capabilities. This system will also achieve an improvement of up-to 29% in handling performance observed during initial testing with differential camber settings.
Geoff Rogers, Co-Founder of Doftek, said that funding and assistance from AMGC has been critical in enabling Doftek to progress to the next step of commercialisation.
“Our real-world testing demonstrates that this technology can provide next-generation performance gains to vehicle manufacturers. The funding and assistance provided by the AMGC has allowed us to accelerate our development and commercialisation efforts into global markets, including Europe and Japan”.
Priscilla Rogers, Co-Founder of Doftek said; “AMGC has an executive team and staff, who have the industry-specific experience, networks and thought leadership needed to be successful in bringing new technologies to market. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to work alongside an exceptional team at the AMGC, and build a strong partnership.“
The initial targets for AWAS are luxury and performance vehicles, followed by electric vehicles (for extended battery life) and driverless cars (for novel steering solutions).
Managing Director of AMGC, Dr Jens Goennemann said Doftek is evidence of the impact Australia’s automotive component sector can have on a global scale.
“Doftek is proof that Australia has a strong and innovative automotive component sector exporting hundreds and thousands of components yearly for inclusion into global supply chains,” Goennemann said.
“Doftek has designed, engineered, tested and, with our assistance, will now commercialise an innovative automotive solution with global relevance and impact. In the fullness of time, Doftek expects to support 40 highly-skilled Australian manufacturing jobs,” said Dr Goennemann.
While conversations and international interest are ongoing, Doftek aim to have OEMs test a prototype unit fitted to their test vehicles once business conditions improve, positioning Doftek as a supplier for future vehicle releases. It is estimated that the completed project will lead to an additional five jobs at Doftek, five at its suppliers, and 30 across domestic project partners.
The prototype is co-funded by AMGC as part of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centre Initiative and will assist with commercialisation of the technology and manufacture of a commercial-grade prototype. Doftek and AMGC will contribute matched funding of $196,425 each to the program.
Doftek’s project partners include On Point Engineering to contribute knowledge gained through years in the Supercars Australia competition, Erntek to supply and commission electric motors, Flexicut Engineering to manufacture purpose-built parts, and 3D Systems to rapid prototype parts and contribute 3D printing know-how.