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Title:
UTILITY VEHICLE DRIVELINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/074340
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A driveline (26) for a utility vehicle such as a farm tractor comprises an epicyclic gear arrangement (PG), having a sun gear (44) engaging two or more planetary gears (46) within a ring gear (48), coupled to drive first (40A) and second (38) output shafts, with the first output shaft (40A) drivingly connected to one or more axles (14, 18) of the vehicle. A first electric drive motor (M1) is coupled to drive a first input shaft (38) drivingly coupled with the epicyclic sun gear (44), and a second electric drive motor (M2) is coupled to drive a second input shaft (40) drivingly coupled with one or more of the epicyclic planetary gears (46). The second output shaft (38) is drivingly connected to a first hydraulic pump (PM 64) which provides, from a first reservoir (R1), a supply of pressurised fluid to one or more consumers on or attached to the vehicle, and the first output shaft (40A) is drivingly connected to a second hydraulic pump (PST 66) which provides, from a second reservoir (R2), a supply of pressurised fluid to a steering system of the vehicle.

Inventors:
BREU WOLFGANG (DE)
GRITSCH STEFAN (DE)
Application Number:
EP2019/076691
Publication Date:
April 16, 2020
Filing Date:
October 02, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AGCO INT GMBH (CH)
International Classes:
B60K1/02; B60K17/28; B60K17/356; B60K25/00
Foreign References:
US20090301799A12009-12-10
US20120115668A12012-05-10
DE29724646U12002-08-29
RU2654743C12018-05-22
JP2013203377A2013-10-07
US8469127B22013-06-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AGCO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DEPARTMENT (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A driveline (26) for a utility vehicle comprising:

- an epicyclic gear arrangement (PG), having a sun gear (44) engaging two or more planetary gears (46) within a ring gear (48), coupled to drive first (40A) and second (38) output shafts, with the first output shaft (40A) drivingly connected to one or more axles (14, 18) of the vehicle;

- a first electric drive motor (Ml) coupled to drive a first input shaft (38) drivingly coupled with the epicyclic sun gear (44); and

- a second electric drive motor (M2) coupled to drive a second input shaft (40) drivingly coupled with one or more of the epicyclic planetary gears (46);

characterised in that the second output shaft (38) is drivingly connected to a first hydraulic pump (PM 64) which first pump provides, from a first reservoir (Rl), a supply of pressurised fluid to one or more consumers on or attached to the vehicle, and the first output shaft (40A) is drivingly connected to a second hydraulic pump (PST 66) which second pump provides, from a second reservoir (R2), a supply of pressurised fluid to a steering system of the vehicle.

2. A driveline as claimed in claim 1, wherein the second hydraulic pump (PST 66) is drivingly connected to at least one of the axles (14, 18) of the vehicle.

3. A driveline as claimed in claim 1, wherein the second output shaft (38) is coupled with the epicyclic sun gear (44) and drivingly coupled with a driven feature of the vehicle.

4. A driveline as claimed in claim 3, wherein the second output shaft (38) includes a clutch mechanism (60) operable to selectively connect and disconnect the epicyclic sun gear (44) and driven feature of the vehicle.

5. A driveline as claimed in claim 4, wherein the clutch mechanism (60) is configured to be further operable as a brake (B) preventing rotation of the second output shaft (38).

6. A driveline as claimed in claim 3, wherein the driven feature of the vehicle is a power take-off (PTO) shaft 30.

7. A driveline as claimed in claim 3, wherein the driven feature of the vehicle is a drive axle (14, 18) providing motive power to the vehicle.

8. A driveline as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the first and second reservoirs (Rl, R2) comprise a common source of fluid.

9. A driveline as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the first and second electric drive motors (Ml, M2) are attached to each other and the first and second input shafts (38, 40) are coaxial.

10. A driveline as claimed in claim 9, wherein the first and second drive motors (Ml, M2) are contained within a single housing (42).

11. A driveline as claimed in claim 10, wherein the single housing (42) also encloses the epicyclic gear arrangement (PG).

12. A driveline as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein one or each of the first input shaft (38) and second input shaft (40) includes a step down gearing (78, 80) between the respective electric drive motor (Ml, M2) and the epicyclic gear arrangement (PG).

13. A driveline as claimed in claim 3, further including a shifting gear arrangement (74) operable to effect two or more speed ratios in the driving coupling between the epicyclic sun gear (44) and the driven feature.

14. A driveline as claimed in claim 13, further including a shifting gear arrangement (72) operable to effect two or more speed ratios in the driving coupling between the first output shaft (40A) and the drive to one or more driven axles (14, 18) of the vehicle.

15. A driveline as claimed in any preceding claim, further comprising a brake mechanism (76) operable to selectively prevent or permit rotation of one or both of the first and second input shafts (38, 40).

16. A utility vehicle including a driveline as claimed in any preceding claim.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

UTILITY VEHICLE DRIVELINE

The present invention relates to driveline/transmission systems for utility vehicles, particularly self-propelled agricultural machines such as farm tractors, and more particularly to such systems for electrically powered vehicles.

It is known that conventional agricultural vehicles such as tractors powered by internal combustion engines are not ecologically efficient due to the high volumes of fossil fuels consumed during operation. Furthermore, despite the legal imposition of increasingly stringent exhaust gas emission standards, generated pollution from such vehicles continues to be a concern. With the expectation that future legislation will only be more stringent, cleaner (more fuel efficient/less polluting) solutions such as hybrid or fully electric vehicles are desired.

United States patent US 8,469,127 describes an example of a hybrid driveline for an agricultural or industrial utility vehicle, such as a tractor. The driveline includes a drive assembly which generates a mechanical torque by means of an internal combustion engine and first, second and third electric motors. The drive assembly has a first mechanical output shaft, driven by the second electric motor, which serves to drive at least one vehicle axle, and a second mechanical output shaft in the form of a power take-off (PTO) shaft. The internal combustion engine and first electric motor are each coupled to drive the second mechanical output shaft (PTO).

In one configuration of the driveline of US 8,469,127, first and second electric motors are positioned adjacent one another (with driveshafts parallel and spaced apart) with the respective output driveshafts drivingly connected to one of the sun and planetary gears of an epicyclic gear arrangement, via one or more gear linkages for spatial reasons, with the outer epicylic ring gear driving the first output shaft and axle or axles of the vehicle, and the sun gear driving the second output shaft and the PTO. The third and, in some configurations, fourth electric motors are connected or connectable into the motive power portion of the driveline (to one or both of the front and rear axles) downstream of the drive to the PTO.

Whilst it is understood that such a hybrid arrangement is more ecologically efficient in terms of reduced pollution through reduced fossil fuel usage and hence reduced emissions, the above-described arrangement is wasteful and costly in terms of the number of components (up to four electric motors in addition to an internal combustion engine) and causes problems from simply trying to physically accommodate them all in the relatively constrained space available under a tractor hood. It is an aim of tractor manufacturers to keep the profile of the hood as low as possible to improve the users view of the area in front of the vehicle and to either side of the hood around the front wheels. Control issues also become a problem in an arrangement such as that of US 8,469,127 with the need for coordination of the output speeds of the internal combustion engine and at least the first electric motor to ensure that the first electric motor is not being effectively driven in reverse (i.e. acting as a generator).

The per-vehicle fossil fuel usage and emissions issue is addressed at least partially by a fully electric vehicle, with pure electrical drives being more efficient (less energy wasting) than internal combustion engines. Some spatial concerns remain as the space currently filled by an internal combustion engine (and conventional gearbox or continuously variable transmission (CVT)) in a conventional vehicle is instead given over to storage batteries (as it is understandably a goal that a working farm tractor should not have to return to base for recharging part-way through a working day) and power electronics for control of the electric motors. The latter may be simplified or avoided in a so-called intermediate hybrid in which a fully electric power source, operating at one or a limited range of speeds, is coupled with a conventional CVT, but it is also expected that ongoing developments in battery technology will continue to reduce the physical volume required to accommodate rechargeable battery storage sufficient to supply increasing capabilities of a working vehicle for a full day’s work without recharging. ln accordance with the invention there is provided a driveline for a utility vehicle comprising:

- an epicyclic gear arrangement, having a sun gear engaging two or more planetary gears within a ring gear, coupled to drive first and second output shafts, with the first output shaft drivingly connected to one or more axles of the vehicle;

- a first electric drive motor coupled to drive a first input shaft drivingly coupled with the epicyclic sun gear; and

- a second electric drive motor coupled to drive a second input shaft drivingly coupled with one or more of the epicyclic planetary gears;

wherein the second output shaft is drivingly connected to a first hydraulic pump PM which first pump provides from a first reservoir a supply of pressurised fluid to one or more consumers on or attached to the vehicle, and the first output shaft is drivingly connected to a second hydraulic pump which second pump provides from a second reservoir a supply of pressurised fluid to a steering system of the vehicle. Preferably, the second hydraulic pump is drivingly connected to at least one of the axles of the vehicle. As will be described further below, this provides for emergency braking when the electric motors are offline and the vehicle is rolling under its own inertia.

The second output shaft is suitably coupled with the epicyclic sun gear and drivingly coupled with a driven feature of the vehicle, which feature may be a power take-off shaft and/or one or more driving axles of the vehicle. In such an arrangement, the second output shaft suitably includes a clutch mechanism operable to selectively connect and disconnect the epicyclic sun gear and driven feature of the vehicle: the clutch mechanism is preferably configured to be further operable as a brake preventing rotation of the second shaft.

Although they may be separate, it is preferred that the first and second reservoirs comprise a common source of hydraulic fluid.

For reasons of compactness, the first and second electric drive motors may be attached to each other and the first and second input shafts are preferably coaxial. Additionally, the first and second drive motors may suitably be contained within a single housing, which housing may also enclose the epicyclic gear arrangement.

Preferably, one or each of the first input shaft and second input shaft includes a step down gearing between the respective electric drive motor and the epicyclic gear arrangement.

The driveline may further include a shifting gear arrangement operable to effect two or more speed ratios in the driving coupling between the epicyclic sun gear and the driven feature and/or between the first output shaft and the drive to one or more driven axles of the vehicle.

A brake mechanism may be provided to selectively prevent or permit rotation of one or both of the first and second input shafts.

The present invention further comprises a utility vehicle including a driveline as recited above.

A further benefit from the adoption of a fully electric driveline for an agricultural vehicle links to the increasing number of farmers having their own electric source for charging (or local access to the same) in the form of a biogas plant producing relatively cheap electricity from farmed organic material. Further advantages of the invention will become apparent from reading the following description of specific embodiments with reference to the appended drawings in which: -

Figure 1 is a representation of an agricultural/utility vehicle, in the form of a tractor, provided with a driveline according to one or more embodiments of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic view of a first embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1 ;

Figure 3 is a schematic view of a further embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1; Figure 4 is a schematic view of a third embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1 ;

Figure 5 is a schematic view of a fourth embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1; Figure 6 is a schematic view of a fifth embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1 ;

Figure 7 is a schematic view of a sixth embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1;

Figure 8 is a schematic view of a seventh embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1; and

Figure 9 is a schematic view of an eighth embodiment of driveline of the vehicle of Fig. 1.

Figure 1 schematically illustrates an agricultural vehicle 10 in the form of a tractor, having front wheels 12 driven by a front axle 14, rear wheels 16 driven by a rear axle 18, a front hood 20 covering inter alia a storage battery 22 coupled via a power electronics (switching/charging) stage 24 to first and second electric motors Ml, M2. The electric motors Ml, M2 form part of a driveline (indicated generally by dashed line 26) providing motive power to the front and rear axles 14, 18 under control of an electronic control unit (ECU) 28. The driveline 26 also includes a power take-off shaft 30 which outputs a driven rotary drive to implements such as balers, tedders etc. coupled to the rear of the tractor. The tractor 10 includes a user station in the form of a cab 32 which may suitably comprise a user interface/control unit 34 by means of which a user may set or adjust operational parameters via the ECU 28.

Figure 2 shows a first configuration 26A of the driveline 26 embodying aspects of the present invention. The first Ml and second M2 electric drive motors are close coupled (connected to each other) with their respective output shafts 38, 40 being coaxial. This makes the motive power unit (Ml + M2) a compact unit that may be contained within a low profile single housing, illustrated by dashed line 42.

Mounted adjacent the motive power unit Ml, M2 is an epicyclic (planetary) gear arrangement PG (which may optionally be enclosed within the single housing 42) with the first input shaft 38 directly (drivingly) coupled to the sun gear 44 thereof, and the second input shaft 40 directly coupled to one or more of the planetary gears 46 of the epicyclic PG. The outer ring gear 48 of the epicyclic PG is directly coupled to a first output shaft 40A and from there, via one or more connecting gears 50, drives an input shaft 52 of the drive to the front and rear axles 14, 18. The output shaft 52 is connected via a differential and braking unit 54 to the rear axle 18, and via a gearing linkage 56 and clutch unit 58 to the front axle 14.

The second output shaft 38 (an extension of the first input shaft and suitably a unitary body therewith) is connected via a brake and clutch unit 60 to a reduction gearing 62 which in turn drives the PTO output shaft 30. The clutch portion C of the brake and clutch unit 60 is operable to connect/disconnect the PTO shaft 30 from the second output shaft 38. The brake portion B of the brake and clutch unit 60 is on the motor side (relative to the clutch portion C) and, when actuated, prevents rotation of the second output shaft 38 and first electric motor Ml.

The first electric motor Ml drives a main hydraulic pump PM 64 via the second output shaft 38 and a gearing linkage 68. The main pump 64 supplies pressurised fluid from a first fluid reservoir R1 to consumers on or attached to the vehicle e.g. lifting cylinders forming part of a front or rear linkage, a front loader, and/or a front suspension of the vehicle.

The second electric motor M2 drives a steering hydraulic pump PST 66 via the input shaft 52 and a gearing linkage 70. The steering pump 66 supplies pressurised fluid from a second fluid reservoir R2 (which may be separate from or common with Rl) to a hydraulic steering system of the vehicle/ tractor (as described in further detail below).

This arrangement of hydraulic supply for the steering system provides an improvement over current tractors that are conventionally supplied with three pumps to provide fluid to the steering system.

During road operation of such current tractors, the steering system is supplied by the main pump (driven by the engine) which is additionally supplying fluid to the lifting cylinders, the CVT transmission or the front suspension of the vehicle. If e.g. in the field, the main pump is overloaded (by the demand of the implement), a second pump (also driven by the engine) helps to ensure steering capability. For the case where the engine is stalled and the vehicle is still moving, a third pump (driven by the wheels) steps in to provide fluid pressure to allow emergency steering. In a battery driven vehicle however, with the challenge of limited energy storage, such an arrangement reduces working hours as the series of pumps are run in parallel. In the present arrangement a wheel driven steering pump PST 66 (for supply to the hydraulic steering system) is provided in the driveline to the rear axle (via the first output shaft 40A) driven by the second electric motor M2 or by freewheeling rotation of at least the rear axle 18. This configuration has the major advantage that the steering pump PST 66 is always delivering fluid to ensure emergency steering - even when the electric motors Ml, M2 are not powered and the vehicle is moving under inertia or through gravity due to the vehicle being on a slope.

The main pump PM 64 (supplying fluid to e.g. the lifting cylinders or the front suspension) is installed in the driveline connected to motor Ml but prior to the clutch/brake assembly 60 connecting the PTO 30 in this first embodiment. This has some major advantages:

1. Only one pump (i.e. 66) is required to ensure steering and that pump is constantly driven;

2. Installing the main pump 64 in the driveline connected with Ml enables this main pump 64 to be switched off e.g. when driving on the road where there is minor hydraulic consumption compared to field work. In the case that increased steering power is requested (e.g. when turning), the motor Ml may be activated while the PTO 30 branch is disconnected by the clutch part C of the brake/clutch assembly 60.

3. In the case where the tractor is operated with an implement, both the main pump PM 64 and the PTO 30 may be operated.

The arrangement of Fig. 2 enables the following five operating modes:

The presence of brake B in the brake/clutch assembly 60 enables the driveline to be driven by motor M2 exclusively (when brake B is actuated to lock Ml), or by both motors Ml and M2 conjointly.

Depending on the intended speed range of the vehicle, the arrangement of Fig. 2 may have limitations. With a large range of intended vehicle speeds such as 0 - 60 kph - the electric motors Ml and M2 (or at least M2) must be provided with a wide operating range (high spread) of at least 10:1 so that the vehicle speed range can be realized. A type of electric machine (motor) to provide such a spread is a switched reluctance motor (SR-motor). If such motors are not available, a further shifting gear SG-T may be integrated in the driveline as described below.

Figures 3 to 9 illustrate further embodiments of vehicle driveline suitable for the vehicle of Fig. 1. Where components are unchanged and perform the same function, they are identified by the same reference numerals and will not be again further described.

Figure 3 illustrates a second embodiment 26B of the driveline 26. In this arrangement, the direct gearing link 50 between the epicylic ring gear 48 and input shaft 52 of Fig. 2 is replaced with a shifting gear arrangement SG-T 72 which is operable to provide three different gear ratios (suitably denoted as High, Medium and Low H, M, L range) driving the input shaft 52. Such an arrangement provides a greater range of operating speeds where the electric motors Ml and M2 have a limited operating speed range. In like manner, the direct gearing link 62 to the PTO 30 is replaced by a further shifting gear arrangement SG-PTO 74 operable to provide three different gear ratios (H, M, L) driving the PTO 30 from the first electric motor Ml. The shifting gear arrangement SG-PTO 74 may also provide a neutral position in which the PTO 30 is undriven, or dedicated clutch mechanisms to provide disengagement may alternately be provided (see e.g. Figs. 7 and 9 below).

The arrangement of Figure 3 enables the following operating modes:

As above, assuming the speed range of motor Ml is not large enough to supply a wide range of PTO speeds, the PTO 30 is provided with a shifting gear SG-PTO 74. The concept of connecting the two electric motors Ml and M2 with a planetary gear has a potential issue in that actively driving one motor may result in unmeant rotation of the other motor so that this other motor works as a generator. This may be the case during PTO 30 operation when the vehicle is in stand-still mode. The torque supplied by Ml may result in part of that torque turning M2 via the epicyclic planetary gear PG, e.g. if the load on PTO is excessively high. In such a case, M2 is operated as generator and voltage would be brought into the internal HV network.

Ml is not affected in this scenario as brake B of brake/clutch unit 60 is already provided to lock motor Ml which thereby avoids generator operation. If electric motor M2 is of a type which enables safe adjustment of zero speed (such as an SR-motor as mentioned above) , this problem is solved. Otherwise, e.g. if a permanent synchron type machine is used, the driveline 26 may be equipped with a brake 76 to lock motor M2 as shown in e.g. Figs. 4 and 5 below.

Figure 4 illustrates a third embodiment 26C of the driveline 26. In this arrangement, the second output shaft 40A, directly coupling the second motor M2 to one or more of the planetary gears 46 of the epicyclic PG, is provided with a brake 76 to lock the motor M2. As indicated above, when only the first electric motor Ml is driven, friction within the epicyclic may result in output shaft 40 being driven in reverse, causing the second motor M2 to act as a generator: application of the brake 76 prevents this. The brake 76 may be accommodated within a casing 42 for the motors Ml, M2 (as described above with reference to Fig. 2) or may be mounted adjacent thereto.

Figure 5 illustrates a fourth embodiment 26D of the driveline 26. In this arrangement, as in Fig. 4, the second output shaft 40 is provided with a brake 76 to lock the motor M2. Additionally, each of the electric motors Ml, M2 is provided with a respective step-down planetary gear 78, 80 connecting to the respective output shaft 38, 40. The provision of step- down gears 78, 80 enables high speed electrical motors to be used which, in additional to being generally more compact than lower speed motors, also have a wider operating speed range and remove the need for shifting gearing (e.g. as at 72, 74 in Fig. 3). The step down gears 78, 80 (and optionally also the brake 76) may be accommodated within a casing 42 for the motors Ml, M2 (as described above with reference to Fig. 2).

Figure 6 illustrates a fifth embodiment 26E of the driveline 26. In this arrangement, the main pump PM 64 is positioned on the PTO side of the brake/clutch arrangement 60. Additionally, the PTO 30 is driven through a shifting gear arrangement 82 which provides first and second driving gear ratios as well as having a neutral (non-driving) position. The particular advantages of this arrangement are:

1. Motors Ml and M2 can conjointly provide tractive power without driving auxiliary drives like the PTO 30 (when shifting gear arrangement 82 is in neutral or the clutch part C of brake/clutch arrangement 60 is disengaged) or hydraulics from the main pump 64 (when the clutch part C of brake/clutch arrangement 60 is disengaged).

2. As the PTO 30 is provided with the shifting gear 82 which provides a neutral position, when this neutral position is selected, main pump can 64 be driven without driving the PTO 30. Running a PTO without attachment may be seen as risk for operator injury and should generally be avoided.

Figure 7 illustrates a sixth embodiment 26F of the driveline 26. In this arrangement, which is largely identical to that of Fig. 6, the PTO 30 is not driven through a shifting gear arrangement 82, but instead through the direct gear link 62 of earlier embodiments. To enable the main pump 64 to be driven without driving the PTO 30, a further clutch mechanism 84 is provided between the pump and PTO to allow decoupling of the PTO.

Figure 8 illustrates a seventh embodiment 26G of the driveline 26. In contrast to the arrangement of Fig. 7, the PTO 30 is permanently coupled to the output of brake/clutch assembly 60, but the main pump 64 may be disconnected by means of a respective clutch mechanism 86.

Figure 9 illustrates an eighth embodiment 26H of the driveline 26. This is a hybrid of the arrangements of Figs. 7 and 8, with both the main pump 64 and the PTO 30 being operably connected/disconnected from the output of brake/clutch assembly 60 by means of respective clutch mechanisms 84, 86.

In the foregoing the applicants have described a driveline 26 for a utility vehicle such as a farm tractor comprises an epicyclic gear arrangement PG, having a sun gear 44 engaging two or more planetary gears 46 within a ring gear 48, coupled to drive first 40A and second 38 output shafts, with the first output shaft 40A drivingly connected to one or more axles 14, 18 of the vehicle. A first electric drive motor Ml is coupled to drive a first input shaft 38 drivingly coupled with the epicyclic sun gear 44, and a second electric drive motor M2 is coupled to drive a second input shaft 40 drivingly coupled with one or more of the epicyclic planetary gears 46. The second output shaft 38 is drivingly connected to a first hydraulic pump PM 64 which provides, from a first reservoir Rl, a supply of pressurised fluid to one or more consumers on or attached to the vehicle, and the first output shaft 40A is drivingly connected to a second hydraulic pump PST 66 which provides, from a second reservoir R2, a supply of pressurised fluid to a steering system of the vehicle. From reading of the present disclosure, other modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such modifications may involve other features which are already known in the field of vehicle driveline and power transmission systems and component parts therefore and which may be used instead of or in addition to features described herein.