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Aussie firm develops world-first wheel alignment system

Government aid set to help Doftek’s ‘active’ wheel alignment system reach market

28 Jul 2020

GOING into a tyre shop for a wheel alignment or manually tweaking your set-up for optimum performance could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new ‘active wheel alignment system’ (AWAS) developed by Victorian-based company Doftek.


Considered a world-first, Doftek’s new system is claimed to allow for on-the-fly adjustments of wheel camber, caster and toe-in via a three-mode selector switch to cater for varying demands of a particular road and driver.


Compatible with MacPherson strut, double-wishbone and multilink suspension configurations, the system can vary the wheel camber by up to three degrees between normal (zero degrees) and sport+ (-3.0 degrees), with a sport mode treading a neat middle ground with a camber angle of -1.5 degrees.


According to Doftek co-founder and project leader Geoff Rogers, AWAS addresses many of the key shortfalls – including weight, cost and compatibility – found in previous attempts.


“Our real-world testing demonstrates that this technology can provide next-generation performance gains to vehicle manufacturers,” he said.


Doftek says the system provides “at least” a 15 per cent increase in handling performance, 10 per cent reduction in rolling resistance, and a 10 per cent reduction in peak tyre temperatures.


With those figures taken from the first prototype, Doftek has now secured financial support from the federal government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to develop the second version which should bring “next-generation dynamic (semi-active) and adaptive (real-time) capabilities” and an “improvement of up to 29 per cent in handling performance observed during initial testing”.


The AMGC is matching Doftek’s investment of $196,425 dollar-for-dollar, taking the total budget for the second prototype to $392,850.


Mr Rogers said the funding provided by the AMGC had allowed the company to accelerate its development and commercialisation efforts into global markets, with a particular emphasis on Europe and Japan.


While the technology will inevitably trickle down into mainstream vehicles, Doftek says the initial targets for AWAS are luxury and performance vehicles before expanding to also encompass electric and autonomous vehicles.


Discussions around interest levels with OEMs are reportedly ongoing, with Doftek eager to have prototypes fitted to manufacturer test vehicles as soon as business conditions improve in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim being to position the company as a future OEM supplier.


AMGC managing director Jens Goennemann said Doftek typified the strong impact Australia’s automotive component sector can have on a global scale, despite vehicle manufacturing no longer operating here. 


“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 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.”


The projected split of the new jobs consists of five new positions directly at Doftek, five at its suppliers and 30 across its domestic project partners, including On Point Engineering (development consultation), Erntek (electric motors), Flexicut Engineering (parts manufacturing) and 3D Systems (3D printing).


The AMGC will also lend assistance in the commercialisation of AWAS and help manufacture commercial-grade prototypes.

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