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Micro-Epsilon and McLaren Applied Technology co-develop new sensor electronics

Micro-Epsilon and McLaren Applied Technologies have co-developed new drive electronics for use on Formula 1 throttle and turbocharger actuators.
With motorsport teams constantly looking to reduce the weight of onboard systems, there exists a need for increasingly robust, compact and intelligent sensors to measure displacement and piston position. Micro-Epsilon worked with McLaren Applied Technology (who are the official supplier of Electronic Control Units to the FIA Formula 1 championship) to custom develop EDS sensor electronics as part of the sub-miniature sensor, electronics and hydraulic actuator control system of the engine.

The EDS sensor is shorter and narrower than traditional measuring equipment (such as LVDTs), and utilizes a non-ferrous aluminum outer sleeve as its target, allowing for easy integration into the piston rod. “This enables the sensor body to be a solid rod rather than a traditional LVDT style with a hollow sensor body and plunger,” says Chris Jones, managing director of Micro-Epsilon. “That makes it easier for OEMs to assemble, and much more robust and reliable, particularly in harsh, on-vehicle environments.”
With a diameter of just 3mm, the EDS sensors are manufactured from pressure-resistant stainless steel (up to 450 bar), can operate to 175°C, and are capable of withstanding vibration and shock levels of up to 300g axial and 100g radial.
Given the design, external electronics are necessary, but these are very compact, typically measuring 20 x 30 x 45mm. The compact design means that the hydraulic cylinder can also accommodate a larger sensor without a resultant increase in length.
“For the project with McLaren Applied Technologies, we were originally approached by the actuator manufacturer, who wanted to integrate our EDS sensor into its own sub-miniature hydraulic actuator for use in Formula 1 throttle and turbocharger control applications,” continues Jones. “The company required a smaller footprint sensor and the 3mm diameter EDS sensor more than met this need. We worked closely with McLaren Applied Technologies, who developed the necessary interface electronics and software to enable our EDS sensor and hydraulic actuator to communicate with their engine control unit. The result is a more elegant, more compact and robust solution for Formula One engines, with a very clean output signal.”


21 May 2014


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