US premiere: Schaeffler Paravan presents Space Drive technology at IMSA
Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co KG. will enter the American racetrack for the first time with the Space Drive technology carrier Mercedes-AMG GT3 and will present the steer-by-wire Mercedes-AMG GT3 in a demonstration drive as part of Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen on Saturday, June 25 at 6 p.m. GT specialist Alec Udell will pilot the 550-hp Space Drive bolide, which has no mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering gear. The technology premiere will be supported by the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Team WINWARD Racing.
“The presentation as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a very foundational step for us. The U.S. has always been a leader when it comes to technology development in connection with autonomous driving and we are supplying a very elementary key technology with the Space Drive drive-by-wire system,” says Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG and founder of PARAVAN GmbH, which developed the system 20 years ago from mobility for the disabled and has been present in the U.S. market with it since 2014.
“WINWARD Racing is excited to be involved in the development of the Space Drive technology by Schaeffler Paravan. We are convinced that this innovative steer-by-wire concept is a significant contribution to the future of autonomous driving transport systems,” says Bryce Ward, Team Owner from WINWARD Racing. “Proving this technology at the highest levels of sports car racing is a step towards implementing these systems in everyday vehicles. Showcasing the drive-by-wire system in IMSA is a wonderful opportunity to create awareness among the American public and American automakers.”
The Space Drive Team has prepared well for the U.S. mission together with WINARD Racing. The first test drives were already completed at the beginning of the year. “The tracks are old school and very demanding. The competition is international and very tough. A future deployment in this environment is the next logical step in the development process for us to push into frontier areas, to interpret steering processes and vehicle dynamics even better, and thus to be able to develop them effectively with autonomous driving in mind,” says Hubert Hügle, CTO of Schaeffler Paravan.
For us, the steering is another active sensor in the vehicle, whose electronic signals we convert into a steering feel to provide this back to the driver at the steering wheel in real time. This is technically very demanding and a challenge for our developers.
The innovative Space Drive driving and steering system emerged from the field of mobility for the disabled a good 20 years ago and has already helped over 10,000 people achieve new mobility. The only road-legal drive-by-wire system represents a key technology for autonomous driving and is a very valuable data provider in the development process, with a view to completely new safety features. “We are following the ‘from track to road’ development approach and have been using the accelerated and very hard development field of motorsports since 2019,” says Arnold, who developed the technology from disabled mobility and brought it to the racetrack. “We have had very good experience with it. The development benefits from the data collected in the course of the race, but on the other hand also from the drivers’ statements. Combining this information helps us to better understand the system and develop it efficiently, especially with a view to series development; the steering column will no longer be present in future vehicle concepts.”
Livery Mercedes-AMG GT3
In the German national GTC Race series and in the DTM, the Space Drive technology approved by the German Motor Sport Federation (DMSB) has been an integral part of the regulations since 2020 and was also used in the Nürburgring 24h races in 2020 and 2021, as well as in the ADAC GT Masters and in rallies. Internationally successful racing drivers such as Bernd Schneider, Markus Winkelhock, the reigning 2021 DTM champion Maximilian Götz, DTM Space Drive driver Maximilian Buhk, and rally driver Armin Schwarz have worked with the Schaeffler Paravan development team to raise Space Drive steer-by-wire technology to a new level, providing an important basis for autonomous driving at Level 5.
Space Drive steer-by-wire is the basis for the autonomous future and opens up a wide range of possibilities for more efficient mobility solutions. Since most Americans have to travel very long distances, Space Drive is key to simplifying the travel experience. With Space Drive, autonomous vehicle concepts can be realized safely and reliably, on an individual basis with a system that can be integrated into nearly any platform – from a race car all the way to a truck.
The engineer and racer not only knows the technical details inside out, he also knows how the system feels. “I think the Space Drive system will work well at Watkins Glen. It's a track with a lot of grip, which I think will accommodate the steer-by-wire steering and allow us to be more stable and focused.”