WATCH | Active wheel alignment system promises best of all worlds

When added grip is needed for cornering, tyres are set to negative camber such as the splayed front wheels seen on racing cars.
When added grip is needed for cornering, tyres are set to negative camber such as the splayed front wheels seen on racing cars.

Until now, a car’s wheel alignment could only be adjusted manually by a mechanic in a workshop. A single wheel alignment setting covers all possible uses and conditions, forcing a compromise between handling, fuel consumption and tyre wear.

But Australian company Doftek has developed what it says is the world’s first active wheel alignment system (AWAS), enabling the alignment of each wheel to be optimised in real-time. By electronically adjusting camber, toe and caster to suit road and driving conditions, the Doftek AWAS is claimed to improve a vehicle’s handling by at least 15% while reducing rolling resistance by 10% and tyre wear by 10%.

“Controlling the contact patch between a car’s tyres and the road is critical for optimal performance, safety, tyre life and fuel efficiency,” says Doftek’s inventor Geoff Rogers, an engineer and vehicle enthusiast. “The orientation of the wheels, or wheel alignment, is the most important setting to achieve this”.

In highway driving the tyre camber can be adjusted to reduce rolling resistance and thus save on fuel, reduce tyre wear, and lower noise. When added grip is needed for cornering, AWAS sets the tyres to negative camber, such as the front wheels seen on racing cars.

It allows the driver to make on-the-move adjustments of wheel alignment using a switch that offers three modes: Normal, Sport and Sport+ to suit different driving conditions. 

It isn’t known how soon the prototype system may make it to market but Doftek is looking to partner with global automotive companies to bring active wheel alignment systems to the world. It may also be offered as an aftermarket product where it may find particular popularity in motor racing.

Doftek has developed the world's first active wheel alignment system, compatible with existing suspension geometries. This system electronically adjusts wheel alignment settings while you drive, giving you an optimised wheel position in real-time, at all times.

“Cars today are so sophisticated that they have electronic control for everything, except the most important thing that controls contact with the road, wheel alignment,” says Rogers, who co-developed the system with his wife Priscilla. “The contact patch on the road is the most important part of a vehicle’s handling.”

He says the device, which adds about 1kg of weight per wheel, fits into existing vehicles and is compatible with all suspension systems.

AWAS can lead to tyres that not only grip better and last longer, but also reduce a vehicle’s turning circle, the latter of particular benefit to trucks.

The venture has attracted the financial support of the Australian government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) initiative.

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