Over stick and stone at 190 km/h - Convincing use of steer-by-wire technology from Schaeffler Paravan at the Lausitz Rally

Image: Sascha Dörrenbacher 2020

The 23rd Int. ADMV-Lausitz Rally, from November 5 to 7, 2020 in Boxberg/Upper Lusatia, offered the opportunity to subject Schaeffler Paravan's innovative steer-by-wire technology to a further stress test.

The 23rd Int. ADMV-Lausitz Rally, from November 5 to 7, 2020 in Boxberg/Upper Lusatia, offered the opportunity to subject Schaeffler Paravan's innovative steer-by-wire technology to a further stress test. Rally legend Armin Schwarz and his co-driver Dennis Zenz were at the start of the gravel-asphalt rally in the Ford Fiesta 5R with the Space Drive System from Schaeffler Paravan and they made the Ford fly perfectly over spectacular tracks. Outside the rankings but with a top performance on the special stages, the test vehicle Ford Fiesta R5, which does not require any mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering column, provided important data and also convinced Armin Schwarz all along the line.

"The Lausitzrallye is an excellent conclusion to the 2020 test season for us and certainly the most demanding challenge for Space Drive," says Roland Arnold CEO of Schaeffler Paravan GmbH und Co KG, which is now further developing the system from the disability mobility sector. "The demands on the control system and the mechanics are much higher than on the lap track, and the external conditions are also completely different. During rallying we can once again test the limits much better and we and Armin Schwarz and his team have mastered this challenge with flying colors. The rally takes us a good step further, with a view to series development.

Already after the shakedown, the driving of the special stages for the vehicle settings on Thursday, Schwarz noted: "The steering worked very well right from the start. We only made a few adjustments and the advantage that the car reacts faster and more precisely than a conventional steering system with mechanical connection was clearly noticeable. I had to give in less and the counter-steering was also very precise".

The Ford Fiesta R5 #03 was allowed to enter the special stages in front of the field of participants with an exceptional permission of the DMSB, as the steer-by-wire system does not yet have FIA homologation. The duo in the cockpit held their ground on Friday on four special stages with the times of the three best placed drivers. On Saturday, eight more special stages followed, which were also on the same level as the leaders.

Armin Schwarz was particularly impressed by the possibilities of the steering system's settings to adapt it to the individual track conditions and thus to control the car much more precisely and thus faster, even in the top speed range. During a rally, the Space-Drive system is exposed to even higher mechanical loads than in otherwise demanding racing. On the off-road tracks, in addition to the speeds, there are also three-dimensional movement stimuli, hard impacts and loads as well as extreme wetness and dirt.

"The car ran excellently over all three days. We were able to test many different settings and thus collect valuable data, which now needs to be evaluated," reports Schwarz. "We drove at the highest level and had no problems whatsoever. This is already excellent for the first use in a rally. I noticed a particularly big difference during the repeat tests, where we drove the same route again. There were many furrows but the steering system filtered out these influences incredibly well and made it much easier to steer".

His co-driver Dennis Zenz adds: "I was positively surprised at the Lausitzrallye, especially since I didn't have a pre-test with steer-by-wire. In the passenger seat, you actually have nothing to do directly with the steering system. I could fully trust Armin and the technology and felt safe. The technology took a lot of pressure off him, you as co-pilot can feel that immediately and he was able to go full speed.

"Due to the nature of the rally track, the much greater three-dimensional stresses are much greater than on a classic Grand Prix circuit. The distances to be covered are also completely different," says Axel Randolph, Head of Racing at Schaeffler Paravan. "Due to the significantly more unsteady and abrupt driving movements, we are gaining further insights, particularly with regard to the further development of the steering unit. The focus is also on the mechanical issue and optimization under this extreme load. The choice of materials plays a very important role here. By driving quickly over bumps and the characteristic gravel tracks on this route, we obtain important data for further development.

The Lausitz Rally

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.

About Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co.KG

The Schaeffler Paravan Technologie 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. Schaeffer Paravan is also developing a "rolling chassis" with intelligent corner modules for vehicles that will drive autonomously in the future - with integrated Schaeffler wheel hub motors, brakes, Space Drive steering (90 degrees) and suspension in one system.

About Armin Schwarz - the German rally legend

Schwarz began his professional career in rallying in 1987 and was already driving in the SCHAEFFLER colors at that time. In that year and in 1988 he became German Champion and also competed in the World Rally Championship. In 1996 he succeeded in winning 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 as a team manager and TV expert on off-road tracks around the world. 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.

Contact person:

Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH &Co.KG
Anke LeuschkePress Officer

+49 7388 99 95 81

Driving Experience
Armin Schwarz

+43 5673 42 64

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