An Australian company has developed a world-first Active Wheel Alignment System (AWAS) for passenger vehicles.
Victorian firm Doftek Australia created the system, which 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 and co-founder Geoff Rogers, an engineer by profession but a vehicle enthusiast at heart.
Rogers channelled his passion for motorsport into the development of a system that would 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.
Lightweight, company and suitable for fitment to MacPherson strut, double-wishbone and multi-link suspension systems, Doftek’s AWAS addresses these issues and can be fitted to the front or rear of the vehicle.
Rogers says 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,” he says.
“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.”
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).
AMGC managing director Dr Jens Goennemann says 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,” he says.
“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.”
While conversations and international interest are ongoing, Doftek aims 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.