Safe and Stable Narrow Tilt-Controlled Commuter Vehicles

Principal Investigator(s):

Rajesh Rajamani, Professor, Chair, Mechanical Engineering


Project summary:

Narrow vehicles like motorcycles can promote significantly improved highway utilization through the use of half-width lanes. However, in order for the general public to adopt this form of personal transportation, narrow vehicles must provide the same ease of use and the same level of safety as passenger sedans. This project explores some fundamental technologies that can make the development of such a prototype narrow vehicle feasible. The project aims to develop a concept narrow vehicle that will be relatively tall compared to its track width so as to provide a travel height that is comparable to that of other vehicles on the highway. To help the driver balance a relatively tall, narrow vehicle, it incorporates an electronic tilt control system that ensures tilt stability. The tilt control system balances the vehicle and improve ease of use, especially on curves where the vehicle must lean into the curve to ensure tilt stability. The vehicle is designed to provide crash protection for its occupants that is significantly superior to that of a motorcycle. Several fundamental challenges are addressed in this exploratory project in order to make the development of the concept narrow vehicle described above a practical reality. These include the development of a direct tilt control system that can operate with a compact motor, synchronization of the tilting of the vehicle with its turning so as to minimize actuator effort and the development of a steer-by-wire system in which the front wheel steering angle is used to control tilt while at the same time perceptibly allowing the driver to use the steering angle for purposes of lateral control.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2004071
  • Start date: 02/2004
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow