Modular design and high-strength materials: how uLite works
Much attention is being paid to the development of unmanned vehicles around the world. It should replace humans in many industries, primarily in the transportation of passengers and cargo. And also be safe and efficient, do not harm the environment. The first overpass transport and infrastructure complex in Belarus, uLight, meets all these requirements. The basis of its rolling stock is the unmanned electric vehicle uLight. Let us have a look at how it works.
Layout and purpose
The uPod consists of two modules: a traction one and a cargo-passenger one. They are connected to each other using mechanical link and damping elements. This solution provides additional vibration damping when driving.
The traction module absorbs the load from the cargo-passenger vehicle and ensures the directed movement of uLite. The lining of the traction module is made of composite materials. It protects equipment from external influences and is highly resistant to wear and tear.
The passenger module is designed to transport 6 people. Its panoramic glazing is made of polycarbonate. The use of such material reduces the uPod’s weight. A special protective coating is applied to the outer and inner surfaces of the glass.
The module frame is made of high-strength aluminum alloy. This gives the uPod’s frame the necessary rigidity while reducing overall weight.
The modular design allows uLite to transport both passengers and, with appropriate reequipment, cargo weight up to 450 kg.
The latter can be placed in the cabin of cargo-passenger module or in a transport frame on the external sling of the traction module. In this case the cargo-passenger module is dismantled beforehand.
Suspension and power plant
The unmanned electric vehicle moves using motor-wheels with a modified contact of the wheel-rail pair. It does not depend on the power supply of the base station, and the power source for the motor wheels is the uLite’s traction storage.
The uLite suspension is independent, with monoshock absorbers mounted on the trailing arms. It effectively dampens the vibrations that arise during the movement of uLite.
uLite is equipped with a highly efficient combined type braking system. It provides mechanical and electrodynamic braking. The latter reduces overall energy costs.
When uLite is parked for a long time, the parking brake system is activated. Its mechanisms have all-wheel drive.
Uninterrupted power supply is provided to uLite by two independent energy storage devices operating in tandem. Even if one of them fails, the unmanned electric vehicle retains the ability to move.
In case of emergencies, uLite is equipped with a rope-block type evacuation system. Its storage location is behind the ceiling panel with easy access. Given the peculiarity of the route - some sections pass over the water surface, there are life jackets in the cabin. They are also located behind the ceiling panel.
Buffers of dead-end bump stops are installed in front and behind the uLite frame. They absorb impact energy in the event of an emergency collision with braking devices located at the dead ends of the anchoring structures.
The fire extinguishing system of the traction module is automatic. Special sensors monitor the situation and safety. In the event of a fire, they activate automatic modules with fire extinguishing agent.
Eco-friendly and efficient
The key points in the development of uLite were lightness, low cost, and safety.
Thanks to the electric drive, the use of motor wheels with a modified contact, as well as the design features of the track structure, uLite consumes a small amount of energy - 4.5 kWh/100 km. Which, in terms of standard fuel, is up to 1.1 l/100 km.
The result is an efficient, environmentally friendly, safe, and easy-to-use unmanned electric vehicle.
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