This paper presents a novel approach to improve both energy efficiency and lateral dynamics of an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle by means of active functional/operational fusion of a driveline system, which distributes power between the front and rear driving axles, and a steering system that steers the front driving wheels.
The paper starts by presenting the kinematic discrepancy factor, which is a normalized difference of the front and rear theoretical velocities that influences the wheel power distribution, as a mathematical function of the tire rolling radii in the driven mode, the gear ratios of the driveline system, and the steering angle of the front wheels. Using this function, the gear ratios from the transfer case to the front and rear wheels are determined to optimize vehicle energy efficiency by minimizing the kinematic discrepancy at the vehicle’s straight line motion and on a curve.
It is also analytically shown that the wheel power distribution leads to the variation of the circumferential force of the front wheels that significantly influences the magnitude and direction of the front wheel lateral force. Thus, the paper introduced the wheel power distribution between the driving axles as an instrument for controlling oversteer-understeer transition of a vehicle, i.e., controlling vehicle lateral dynamics.
Finally, the steering angle of the front wheels is considered and analyzed as an input of an active steering system to control the vehicle oversteer-understeer process in combination with the effect of the steering angle on the kinematic discrepancy factor. Longitudinal velocity control is added to constrain the lateral acceleration. Thus, the functional fusion of the active steering and driveline systems for enhancing both AWD vehicle energy efficiency and dynamics is introduced for the first time.