Now it gets dusty! World premiere for steer-by-wire technology in the rally scene

The next challenge for the digital driving and steering system Space Drive from Schaeffler Paravan: Following the successful endurance test of the steer-by-wire technology at the ADAC TOTAL 24h race on the Nürburgring a good two weeks ago, rally legend Armin Schwarz will now take the wheel. In a Ford Fiesta R5 he will have his first rally assignment at the Lausitz Rallye in early November.

In this application there is no mechanical connection between the input unit and the steering gear. An extraordinary endurance test with extremely fast steering movements and three-dimensional movement stimuli. This is intended to push the system even further to its limits and provide further important findings for high-volume development.

"In the off-road sector, Space Drive has to withstand quite different stresses and strains, from unevenness, changing road surfaces, dirt and moisture to significantly longer distances than in classic racing," says Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG as well as Managing Director of Paravan GmbH, where the system was developed based on mobility for the disabled. "Initial tests in August showed us that the system proved to be very robust - even under these harsh conditions. If Space Drive can withstand the stresses of the rally, then we are also a step ahead in terms of the material properties of the components".

The first tests with the Ford Fiesta R5 took place at the Area39 site in Gröningen. The rally test and training ground, located in the Harz foreland, belongs to none other than Armin Schwarz. To this day, he is the last German rally driver to win a World Rally Championship round. In the dusty gravel terrain the vehicle proved to be very robust, agile and controlled in the steering - despite the very fast movements and the unevenness of the terrain.

"For me, rallying is emotional, mastering a driving machine on a natural track. With Space Drive, this is something very special because it marks a whole new era in terms of steering or suspension development," says rally legend Armin Schwarz after the first test. "The car drives like the devil anyway, you need a steering system that can keep up. Steering has clear advantages because it kicks in as soon as you do something. We program something and it reacts.”

Schwarz himself will take a seat in the cockpit during the 23rd Int. ADMV-Lausitz Rallye, which will be held from November 5 to 7, 2020, to experience the endurance test under real conditions. On the co-driver's side will be rally co-driver Dennis Zenz from Klausen. Two challenging rally days and a total of 345 kilometers of off-road track with gravel and asphalt are waiting for you.

As the steer-by-wire technology has not yet been homologated by the FIA for use in rallies, the Ford Fiesta R5 #03 with its distinctive and typical Schaeffler Paravan design will start the stages in front of the field but will not be given any ratings. The special feature of the rally vehicle, in addition to the approval from the German Motor Sport Federation (DMSB), is that a road permit is also required to operate the vehicle. The Schaeffler Paravan technology carrier has both.

"It fascinates me to be able to work on such a forward-looking project," says Schwarz. Participation in the Lusatia Rallye should not be seen as a comeback with active participation in the classic competitions and championships. The off-road specialist is exclusively dedicated to the steer-by-wire project and is driving selected competitions as part of the trials. "You are only old when you are no longer willing to learn something new," he says. "It is something completely new for me. But these are things where you can learn something new when you're old. Anything that helps you, you take on faster, because it makes driving faster and above all safer.”


The Lausitzrallye celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The rally, which has been held by the ADMV since the year 2000, impresses with unique gravel tracks in Europe. The racing event in the Lausitz, which is recognized by the FIA and the DMSB, attracts participants from all over the world and also includes national series such as the Gravel Cup, the ADMV Championship and the Saxon Championship.

Racing as a development and technology platform

For us, motor sports is both a technology platform and a development laboratory. Testing under extreme conditions provides important impulses for development. The best example of this is Space Drive, a key technology for autonomous driving, developed from mobility for the disabled, which is already being tested on various race tracks. As a rally driver and brand ambassador for Schaeffler Paravan, Armin Schwarz is actively contributing to perfecting the Space Drive drive-by-wire system under the toughest conditions.

About Schaeffler Paravan Technology GmbH & Co. KG
The Schaeffler Paravan Technology GmbH & Co. KG is a company specializing in the development of fail-safe drive-by-wire systems - "Space Drive" - and chassis system solutions. It is based in Herzogenaurach with a production facility in Pfronstetten-Aichelau. Schaeffler Paravan Technologie is a joint venture (90 percent Schaeffler and ten percent Roland Arnold) and was founded in October 2018. The space drive system developed by Paravan founder, Roland Arnold, has been completely transferred to the joint venture and will be industrialized there. For vehicles that will drive autonomously in the future, Schaeffler Paravan is also developing a "rolling chassis" with intelligent corner modules - with integrated Schaeffler wheel hub motors, brakes, Space Drive steering (90 degrees) and suspension in one system.

About Armin Schwarz - A German rallye legend
Schwarz began his professional career in rallying in 1987 and was already driving in the Schaeffler colors. In that year, as well as in 1988, he became German Champion and also competed in the World Rally Championship. In 1996, he won the European Championship title. He ended his professional career as a works driver for Škoda after the 2005 season, and since then he has continued to be found on off-road tracks around the world as a team manager and TV expert. Armin Schwarz now runs the Area 39 test track in Gröningen, where not only professionals do their laps, but also ambitious hobby drivers can attend driver training courses or improve their rallying skills.

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