Non-contact torque sensor for drive shafts in motor vehicles

July 30, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Non-contact torque sensor for drive shafts in motor vehicles
Industrial machinery company NSK says it has developed a non-contact torque sensor that measures drive shaft torque in real time - the first in the world with this capability.

The torque sensor, says the company, can increase fuel economy, improve ride comfort and safety, and expand a world of new possibilities across connected cars, autonomous driving, shared services, and electric vehicles. The sensor uses magnetic fields to detect torque by measuring minute twisting of the drive shaft - a key component that transmits engine or motor power to the wheels - that occurs naturally as it is rotated by the motor.

Measuring torque at the drive shaft provides vital information that can be used to increase fuel economy, improve comfort and safety, reduce environmental impact, and even detect abnormalities or malfunctions in the vehicle. Conventional torque sensors, says the company, have been too complicated or expensive for wide-scale use. Instead, the company says it created a simple structure in a compact form, ideal for mass production and easy adoption by automakers.

Key product features are offered as the following:

  • Non-Contact Sensor
    • A simple form factor ideal for mass production.
    • High reliability due to no friction between the sensor and the shaft.
  • Compact
    • Reduced the width of the unit by half and improved sensitivity by using a special method of wrapping the sensor coil and employing an optimized material.
  • Ease of Manufacturing
    • Sensor requires no grooves, coatings, or other special processing of the shaft.
    • Only requires shaft materials and basic surface processing methods that have a history of use in mass-production car models.

Key customer benefits include the following:

  • Better Fuel Economy (Lower Power Consumption).
    • The concept of pairing electric motor with two-speed transmission in EV is gaining attention as an effective method to deliver increased efficiency. NSK's torque sensor can help deliver shock-free gear shifting enabling the use of a larger step ratio to deliver 7% increased fuel economy*2. In belt-driven CVT systems, data from NSK's torque sensor can help to adjust and reduce the hydraulic clamping force applied to the belt to the minimum required, thereby reducing transmission

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