Lamborghini is working on a novel automotive technology that would allow vehicles’ to adjust camber and toe settings while moving. It’s something that the brand’s corporate parent, Volkswagen Group, has been struggling with for a while. But the potential benefits could result in major performance advantages and redefine how future suspension systems function.
That’s especially true if Lamborghini managed to take the system from adjustable to one that’s fully adaptive. Imagine a vehicle that predicatively adds negative camber in a corner while adopting something more neutral for the straights. In addition to the potential mechanical advantages something like that might offer, the resulting automobile would theoretically see reduced tire wear.
The presumptive downside is that the relevant systems would introduce additional complexities to vehicle designs that could reduce reliability and increase servicing fees. That’s perfectly acceptable on the kinds of automobiles that cost as much as a house and are purchased by individuals with massive disposable incomes. But it’s going to need to be robust before it’s likely to become commonplace on large-volume models.
It also doesn’t make sense in certain applications. If you’re not pushing a vehicle’s cornering physics to the absolute limit and are likewise planning on making it a daily driver, then there is not much of a point to having this kind of technology installed. Track vehicles tend to be set up for the track and probably have owners who probably keep a set of street tires they don’t mind seeing wear prematurely. But some drivers may opt to adjust toe and camber ahead of hitting the track, keeping the vehicle as streetable as possible the rest of the time.
Lamborghini’s new tech clearly caters to the latter group, saving them some time and energy.
At this point, the automaker has a working prototype and the Active Wheel Carrier required has been installed in a Huracán for testing. Car and Driver even managed to spend some time with it, stating that some aspects of the system are more revolutionary than others.
From Car and Driver:
According to Rouven Mohr, Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, this is one of the final frontiers of vehicle dynamics. Suspension geometry is usually based around a set of compromises, with the loads created by a car in motion inevitably negatively affecting at least some of these. And the alignment settings that are right for the track will cause premature tire wear on the street, which is why many high-performance cars have track-alignment settings and necessitate switching back and forth. Gaining active control in two different planes—toe being the angle of the rotating wheel relative to the direction of travel, and camber its side-on angle relative to the ground — means that many of these compromises can be eliminated. The results, based on our drive in a Lamborghini Huracán development mule at Porsche’s Nardò test track in Italy, are deeply impressive.
The idea itself is not new, and Mohr admits that work on it was being done at fellow VW sibling Audi when he previously worked there. But as well as the hardware required to move the wheel in two planes, the challenge is creating a control system capable of doing so quickly and accurately enough to allow the benefits to be exploited. This is an area in which Lamborghini is leading the way.
The system works exclusively on each of the Huracán prototype’s rear wheels. Active toe control is, in essence, a rear-steering system. We’ve had those before, of course—but this one can also move the wheels between toe-in, where the leading edges point very slightly toward each other, and toe-out, where they do the opposite. In very general terms, toe-out makes a car more reactive and keener to turn, while toe-in gives better high-speed stability.
The adjustable camber is far more impressive and likely harder for the company to make work. Having the Active Wheel Carrier allows Lamborghini to adjust the cornering loads tires are subjected to. According to Lamborghini, you can tweak the angle to have up to 25 percent more cornering force or set it back to something neutral to improve straight-line performance.
This system is said to be capable of moving 6.6 degrees of toe adjustment in either direction. The Active Wheel Carrier is also supposed to allow between 2.5 degrees of positive and 5.5 degrees of negative camber — which can take place simultaneously with toe-angle changes within 60 degrees per second.
Better still, the hub assembly that houses the necessary hardware looks fairly simple and quite robust. Car and Driver described the unit as having “one face to mate with the half-shaft connecting to the transmission and the other joining the hub that holds the wheel.” A pair of rotating flanges with teeth are situated within, and their rotation (controlled by an electric motor) is what changes the relative angle between the sides. One adjusts camber and the other determines the toe angle.
Apparently, the tricky part wasn’t building the hardware. It was getting the unit to work in tandem with Lamborghini’s stability control, torque management, and active aerodynamic systems.
The current prototype is affixed exclusively to the rear axle of a rear-drive car, which is a little surprising. But it may just be due to Lamborghini equipping electric motors to the front axle of future hybrid models. While I’m hardly an engineer, it also seems like it would also be tough to synchronize it with caster angles — potentially keeping it relegated to the back half for test mules for the time being.
At any rate, those who have tested the system claim the difference is immediately noticeable and makes the prototype Huracán feel like a newer Lamborghini. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to offer superhuman levels of performance. But it’s still reducing lap times and may eventually evolve into something that is applicable for everyday driving.
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