The automotive industry is undergoing a far-reaching transformation process. Not only proven drive systems are being put to the test, but also the associated business models and value chains. However, the development of new, electrically powered models is not only complex and expensive, it also requires different know-how. The founders of the start-up DeepDrive, which was spun off at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), want to help shape the change. To this end, they have developed a modular platform with integrated batteries and wheel hub motors, in which the drive, steering, brakes and chassis are already in place. Felix Poernbacher and five other founders of DeepDrive met in the winter semester 2014/2015 in the TUfast project. Their goal at the time was to build an electric racing car and take part in the Formula Student design competition. “This project welded us together,” Poernbacher recalls: “In the decisive phase before the race, we all spent day and night in the workshop and – if at all – also slept there. Those were tough weeks, but we learned a lot: about technology, project management and also about people management.” In the end, the TUM team won the competition in “Engineering Design”.
The fact that until now separate expensive platforms were developed for specific applications and customer groups gave the DeepDrive team the idea of developing a plug & play solution on which different vehicles can be built. Large automotive companies have their own platforms, but unlike them, DeepDrive’s platform should be completely scalable. In other words, its size should be adaptable to the wishes of the customers and the drive should be compact and lighter. After participating in the Pre-Incubator Programme of the Centre for Innovation and Foundation TUM, the first prototype was developed. At the heart of the platform is a newly designed, highly efficient drive system consisting of two wheel hub motors driving the rear wheels, complete with integrated motor control. Due to the direct drive, neither gears nor axles are needed, which makes the construction material-saving and light. According to the company, which is funded by TUM Venture Labs, the technology, for which a patent has already been filed, makes it possible to increase the range by 20% compared to the current state of the art.
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