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Title:
WHEEL ASSEMBLY FOR A VEHICLE GUIDED ON A RAILWAY TRACK
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/015290
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention concerns a vehicle guided on a railway track (3) comprising a chassis (1) and at least one wheel assembly (2) interconnected to the chassis (1) and a method for steering said vehicle. The wheel assembly comprises a cross-member (4) having a first end (5) to which a first hub (7) is interconnected by a first steering joint (9) and a second end (6) to which a second hub (8) is interconnected by a second steering joint (10). A first wheel (13) is attached to the first hub (7) rotatable around a first rotation axis (15) and a second wheel (14) is attached to the second hub (8) rotatable around a second rotation axis (16). A first sensor (20a) determines the lateral position of the first sensor (20a) with respect to the rail (3). The first sensor attached to the first hub (7) and is with respect to a direction of travel arranged in front of the supporting area (19) of the first wheel (13) in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A1 apart. The first sensor (20a) is interconnected to an actuator by a control unit (22) which calculates a steering angle for the at least one interconnected wheel (13, 14) depending on the determined position of the first sensor (20a).

Inventors:
LARSSON, Göran (Gubelstrasse 24, 6300 Zug, 6300, CH)
STALDER, Michael (Schanzenstrasse 18, 4056 Basel, 4056, CH)
Application Number:
EP2017/067839
Publication Date:
January 25, 2018
Filing Date:
July 14, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MEDELA HOLDING AG (Lättichstrasse 4B, 6340 Baar, 6340, CH)
International Classes:
B61F3/16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RENTSCH PARTNER AG (Bellerivestrasse 203, Postfach, 8034 Zürich, 8022, CH)
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Claims:
PATENT CLAIMS

1. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) comprising a chassis (1 ) and at least one wheel assembly (2) interconnected to the chassis ( 1 ) comprising a. a cross-member (4) having i. a first end (5) to which a first hub (7) is interconnected by a first steering joint (9) swiveling about a first steering axis (10) arranged in a vertical manner, ii. a second end (6) to which a second hub (8) is interconnected by a second steering joint (10) swiveling about a second steering axis (12) arranged in a vertical manner, and b. a first wheel (13) attached to the first hub (7) rotatable around a first rotation axis (15) and a second wheel ( 14) attached to the second hub (8) rotatable around a second rotation axis (16), c. the first and the second wheel (13,14) each comprise a rolling surface (18) which during operation interacts with a rail of a railway track (3) by a supporting area (19), wherein the center distance between each steering axis (11,12) and the center of the related supporting area (19) is within a maximum distance of 0.1 m, and d. a first sensor (20a) to determine the lateral position of the first sensor (20a) with respect to the rail (3), i. said first sensor (20a) being attached to the first hub (7), ii. said first sensor (20a) being arranged with respect to a direction of travel in front of the supporting area ( 19) of the first wheel (13) in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A1 apart with respect to the center of the respective supporting area (19), wherein the distance A1 is in the range of 0.1 -1.2m e. an actuator (21 ) interconnected to at least one of the first and the second wheel (13,14) to swivel the at least one interconnected wheel (13,14) around the respective steering axis ( 11 ,12) by a steering angle, wherein f. the first sensor (20a) is interconnected to the actuator (21 ) by a control unit (22) which calculates a steering angle for the at least one interconnected wheel (13,14) depending on the determined position of the first sensor (20a).

2. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 1 characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a second sensor (20b) which is attached to the second hub (8), said second sensor (20b) being arranged with respect to the direction of travel in front of the supporting area (19) of the second wheel ( 14) in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A2 apart with respect to the center of the related supporting area (19).

3. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a third sensor (20c) which is attached to the first hub (7), said third sensor (20c) being arranged with respect to the direction of travel in the back of the supporting area (19) of the first wheel (13) in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A3 apart with respect to the center of the related supporting area (19).

4. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 3 characterized in that the distance A1 and the distance A3 are equal.

5. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a fourth sensor (20d) which is attached to the second hub (8), said fourth sensor (20d) being arranged with respect to the direction of travel in the back of the supporting area ( 19) of the second wheel ( 14) in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A4 apart with respect to the center of the respective supporting area (19).

6. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the first and the second hub (7, 8) of the at least one wheel assembly are interconnected to each other by a steering rod (23).

7. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the actuator (4) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) is interconnected to the cross-member (4).

8. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the actuator (21 ) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) is in a transversal direction arranged between the wheels (13, 14) of a wheel assembly (2).

9. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one sensor (20) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) measures its position with respect to an inner guiding edge (24) or flank (25) of the rail (3).

10. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 9 characterized in that the rail (3) is comprising a groove (26) acting as the inner guiding edge (24) for the at least one sensor (20).

11. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 10 characterized in that the at least one sensor (20) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) determines its position with respect to at least one upper edge (27) and/or at least one flank (25) of the groove (26).

12. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one sensor (20) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) is an inductive sensor and/or a laser sensor and/or a capacitive sensor and/or an ultrasonic sensor and /or an optical sensor and /or a radar sensor.

13. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one sensor (20) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) has a protection means (28) which is positioned in front of the at least one sensor (20) in respect of the direction of travel.

14. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one sensor (20) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) is arranged in a height of about 0.04m - 0.5m above the rail (3).

15. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that each wheel (13, 14) of the at least one wheel assembly (2) is interconnected to a brake disc (29), wherein the brake disc (29) is arranged outside of the wheel (13,14).

16. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a driving motor (30) which is arranged outside of the wheel (13, 14) and is interconnected to the wheel (13, 14) byagearbox (31).

17. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 15 characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a rotation axis of the brake disc (29) which is arranged at an angle with respect to the rotation axis (15, 16) of the respective wheel (13,14).

18. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claims 1-13 characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a brake disc (29) which is arranged inside of a wheel (13, 14) and a thereto interconnected brake caliper (32) and is attached to the respective hub (7, 8).

19. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the at least one wheel assembly (2) comprises a fifth sensor (20e) which is interconnected to a chassis (1 ) and to the control unit (22), wherein the control unit (22) determines out of the measured quantities of the fifth sensor (20e) a track type and /or a track curvature and /or track anomalies of the rails (3 ) in front of the wheel assembly (2) in the direction of travel.

20. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims characterized in that the control unit (22) is interconnected to a position determining system which provides information to the control unit (22) about the position of the wheel assembly (2) along the rail (3).

21. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to claim 20 characterized in that the control unit (22) uses information on the position of the wheel assembly (2) to revert to stored data -set.

22. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims, wherein the rolling surface (18) of the wheel (13, 14) is conical or cylindrical or barrel-shaped.

23. Vehicle guided on a railway track (3) according to one of the preceding claims comprising at least two wheel assemblies (2), wherein the at least one sensor (20) of the first wheel assembly (2) is interconnected to the at least one sensor (20) of the second wheel assembly (2) by a control unit (22).

24. Method for steering a track guided vehicle (2) comprising the following steps: a. Providing a track guided vehicle (2) as defined in claim 1 ; b. Measuring a displacement of at least one sensor (20) with respect to a neutral position where a center of the at least one sensor (20) is above a inner guiding edge (24) of a rail (3), c. Communicating the measured displacement to a control unit (22) interconnected to the at least one sensor (20), d. Calculating a correcting steering angle by a control unit (22) wherein the correcting steering angle is determined out of the measured displacement of the at least one sensor (20), e. Communicating the calculated connecting steering angle to at least one actuator (21 ) interconnected to at least one wheel (13) and the control unit (22), f. swiveling at least one interconnected wheel (13) around a respective steering axis ( 11 ) by the correcting steering angle by at least one actuator (21) so that the at least one sensor (20) is in a target position, where a flange of the at least one interconnected wheel (13) has a target displacement to the inner guiding edge (24) of the rail (3).

25. Method according to claim 24, wherein the target displacement of the flange to the inner guiding edge (24) of the rail (3) is in a range of about 0.001 m - 0.06m.

26. Method according to claim 24, wherein a second sensor (20b) is interconnected in front of a second wheel (14) and the first wheel (13) is interconnected to the second wheel (14) via a steering rod (23), wherein each sensor has an individual neutral position to which a displacement is measured and communicated to the control unit (22) which calculates target positions out of the mean of the measured displacements of the first and the second sensor (20a, 20b).

27. Method according to claims 26 wherein a. a third sensor (20c) is attached behind the first wheel (13) and b. a forth sensor (20d) is attached behind the second wheel (14) c. wherein each sensor (20a-d) measures its displacement in respect to an individual neutral position and communicates the same to the control unit (22), d. and the control unit (22) is i. using the measured displacements of the first and the second sensor (20a, 20b) to calculate first target positions forthe first and second sensor (20a, 20b), wherein the absolute values of the displacement of the first sensor and the second sensor (20a, 20b) are equal. ii. using the measured displacements the first and the third sensor (20c, 20d) to calculate second target positions of the first and the third sensor (20c, 20d), wherein the displacements of the first and the third sensor (20c, 20d) are equal, iii. using the measured displacements the second and the forth sensor (20b, 20d) to calculate third target positions of the second and the forth sensor (20b, 20d), wherein the displacements of the second and the forth sensor (20b, 20d) are equal, iv. determining a correcting steering angle by which the actuator (21 ) steers the first and the second wheel ( 13,14) in a defined position. v. wherein in the defined position

1 . the first and second sensor ( 20a, 20b) are one of the first target positions

2. and the first and third sensor ( 20a, 20c) are in one of the second target positions

3. and the second and forth sensor ( 20b, 20d ) are in one of the third target positions.

Description:
WHEEL ASSEMBLY FOR A VEHICLE GUIDED ON A RAILWAY TRACK FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a steerable wheel assembly as defined by the claims and a vehicle guided on a railway track comprising such a steerable wheel assembly. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Track-bound vehicles such as trains or trams often exhibit wheels that are not optimally aligned to the tracks leading to higher friction between the track and the wheel's rim. Especially in curves with a small radius, this contact leads to an increased profile wear and noise pollution. I n case of low-floor vehicles this effect is even more pronounced : The low- floor vehicles feature smaller and less wheels per vehicle in order to increase the passenger comfort and inner space of the vehicle by having a continuous low-floor structure. However, this further leads to enhanced loads per wheel and a more pronounced fatigue of the wheel's material causing smaller rifts or even larger material fractures. Several solutions are known to reduce the track and wheel wear. In the 1 990's, systems have been developed that were able to steer the wheels in curves. However, it turned out that these solution often suffered from undesired side effects in straight track sections such that the wheels adhered one-sided with the rim on the track, leading to an enhanced wear and noise in straight track sections. Hence, after a few years, most of these concepts were discarded and conventional concepts combined with wheel-noise absorbers and advanced industrial lubricants were again pursued. One example of the subject-matter is the document DE4231 346, published on the 24.03. 1 994 by Siemens AG, which concerns a rail course measurement device with at least one inductive sensor arrangement and computing unit. A sensor arrangement for each individ ual wheel detects a change in inductance corresponding to the change of the position of the rail. The sensor arrangement can contain at least one sensor in front of and one behind of the associated wheel and incorporates a magnetic carrier that is fixed on a telescope-pendulum which is rotatably suspended. Hence, the magnetic sensor can move in a horizontal plane and follow the direction of the rail.

DE1 0201 3001 973, published on the 1 6.01 .201 6 by Josef Staltmeir, relates to a concepts for high-speed trains, where the guide has sensors i.e. distance sensors for providing measured signals about an operational behavior of a driving module and a head bogie on a railway. The sensors are arranged inside a flange of a wheel and detect a lateral distance between the wheel's flange and a rail head. Values of the distances are compared with values of the middle deviation of the bogie to the track midd le and transferred to a controller. Traction motors are controlled to optimize the behavior and backward ly guide the bogie into a central position. The sensors are designed as inertia sensors, signal transmitters or derailment detectors.

US201 02941 63A, published on the 23. 1 0.201 0 by the University of Paderborn, relates to a rail vehicle comprising a chassis provided with individual wheels which are respectively mounted on axle carriers in such a way that they can pivot in the horizontal direction about a vertical steering axis. The rail vehicle further comprises a steering actuator associated with each wheel, for adjusting a pre-determined steering angle about the vertical steering axis. Additionally, the wheels of the axles are mounted in such a way that they can be pivoted in the vertical direction about a horizontal camber axis and can be acted upon by means of a camber actuator in order to adjust a pre-determined camber angle. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to solve at least one of the aforementioned problems, a vehicle guided on a railway track is comprising a chassis and at least one wheel assembly according to the invention interconnected to the chassis. The chassis comprises a cross-member having a first and a second end . A first hub is interconnected to the first end of the cross-member by a first steering joint swiveling about a first steering axis arranged in a vertical manner. At a second end of the cross-member a second hub is interconnected by a second steering joint comprising a joint shaft and a joint bushing . The steering joint allows a swiveling motion about a second steering axis arranged in a vertical manner.

The steering joint normally comprises a joint shaft and a joint bushing. The steering axis is orientated concentrically within the joint shaft around which the wheel is steerable. The joint shaft extends through a section of the cross-member in an essential vertical manner and penetrates in a designated depression of the hub, interconnecting the hub and the cross-member. Preferably, the cross-member is arranged under a rotation axis of the wheel and the joint shaft is interconnected to the hub on the lower side of the same, since a low cross member is advantageous for low floor trams.

A first wheel is rotatably attached to the first hub around a first rotation axis. A second wheel is rotatably attached to the second hub around a second rotation axis. The first and the second wheel each comprise a rolling surface which during operation interacts with a rail of a railway track by a supporting area. The exact shape of the supporting area depends among others on the surface shape of the running surface of the wheel and rail's and wheel's wear as well as the individual surface pressure. In a preferred variation the center distance between each steering axis and the center of the related supporting area is within a maximum distance of 0. 1 m. Furthermore, a first sensor determines the lateral position of the first sensor ( itself) with respect to the rail. The first sensor is attached to the first hub through a first sensor mounting. The first sensor is preferably arranged with respect to a direction of travel (x-direction ) in front of the supporting area of the first wheel in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A1 apart with respect to the center of the respective supporting area. Sensor adjustment means can be present by which the sensor can be adjusted in its position regarding the height above the rail (z-direction ) and the lateral displacement to the rail (y-direction ) . Hereby, the sensor is placed at a height in a range of about 0.04m - 0.5m above the rail.

The displacement in the direction of travel (x-direction ) is fixed at the distance A. The range of A1 may be determined by taking half of the diameter of the wheel as a lower limit, meanwhile the upper limit is set due to the maximal availed space underneath the chassis and in front of the wheel. For a preferred variation of the invention, this range is between 0. 1 - 1 .2 m for the smaller wheel of low flow trams.

Furthermore, an actuator is interconnected to at least one of the first and the second wheel to swivel the at least one interconnected wheel around the respective steering axis by a steering angle. The first sensor is interconnected to the actuator by a control unit which calculates a correcting steering angle for the at least one interconnected wheel depending on the determined position of the first sensor.

In a variation of the invention, a second sensor is attached to the second hub by a second sensor mounting. The at least one sensor mounting is preferably designed as a mechanically rigid and stiff structure which prohibits extensive vibrations or oscillations of the sensor in respect to the hub by the sensor mounting. The second sensor is arranged with respect to the direction of travel (x-direction ) in front of the supporting area of the second wheel in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A2 apart with respect to the center of the related supporting area. The range of the distance A2 can be determined the same way as the range of the distance A1 .

In a variation of the invention the wheel assembly comprises a third sensor which is interconnected to the first hub wherein the third sensor is interconnected or directly attached to the first sensor mounting on the first wheel. However, a separated sensor mounting of the first and the third sensor is also possible with a sensor mounting, that is again made by a stiff structure to dampen vibrations or oscillations of the sensor is respect to the hub. The third sensor is arranged with respect to the direction of travel in the back of the supporting area of the first wheel in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A3 apart with respect to the center of the related supporting area.

In a variation of the invention the wheel assembly comprises a fourth sensor, which is interconnected to the second hub and which is arranged with respect to the direction of travel in the back of the supporting area of the second wheel in a horizontal direction spaced a distance A4 apart with respect to the center of the respective supporting area. The distances A1 through A4 take influence on the sensitivity of the overall system. Larger distances A1 , A2 result in a more sensitive behavior of the overall system as slight changes in the position of the wheel result in a stronger deflection of the respective sensor. At the same time, the risk becomes lager that the sensor does not remain above the rail in case of curves with a particularly small radius. Good results can be achieved if the distances A1 through A4 are in the range of 0. 1 - 1 .2m. By choosing the distance A1 and the distance A3 , respectively A2 and A4, equal within the available tolerances a direction independent behavior can be achieved. The first and the second hub may be directly interconnected to each other by a steering rod. This has the advantage that only one actuator can be used to steer both wheels at the same time. The steering rod can have a variable length to adjust during operation. A simple yet robust construction can be achieved when the actuator is attached to the cross-member and is in a transversal direction (y-direction ) arranged between the two wheels of a wheel assembly.

In a preferred embodiment, to keep a wheel on track the at least one sensor measures its position with respect to an inner guiding edge and/ or inner flank of the rail. Using an inner edge and /or flank of the rail as a primary guiding means is advantageous since they are determinable even under harsh conditions, e.g. snow etc.. However, in the case of a rail comprising a groove as a guiding means for the wheel flanges, the groove as such or details thereof can be used as a guiding means for the at least one sensor. Hereby the at least one sensor determines its position with respect to at least one upper edge and /or at least one flank of the groove to orientate itself.

Switching of the controlling guiding means during operation and/or combining signals of different sensors to determine the controlling guiding means is possible if the condition requires it. E.g. it is possible to use different sensor combinations and the thereto related signals if running on a straight track or in a curve. Moreover it is possible to use different modes at the same time, e.g. with comparatively long vehicles which are partially on a straight track and partially in a curved area. On a straight track it can be sufficient if - with respect to the running direction of the vehicle -only the leading sensors are active and in curves both leading and trailing sensors are under control. By interconnection of several sensors by a control unit it becomes even possible that per wheel assembly in a curve only the curve inner or the curve outer sensors become active. Interpolation of the wheels of a wheel assembly becomes possible over the length of a vehicle namely in the case of difficult track situation, e.g . by crossing junction plates.

The at least one sensor may be an inductive sensor and /or a laser sensor and /or a capaci- tive sensor and/or an ultrasonic sensor and/or an optical sensor, wherein the at least one sensor is arranged contactless to the rail. Furthermore, in certain conditions laser edge sensors have proven to be a good means to accurately detect the distance to an objects edge. Generally, these systems are based on a laser line being projected by the sensor, reflected from the edge and /or surface and collected by a receiver. Exact distances to the edge and/or surface are than calculated from these signals by means of underlying algo- rithms.

Good results can be achieved if the sensor is arranged 0.04-0.5 m above the rail in order to allow a certain clearance between the rail and the sensor. At least one sensor may be equipped by a protection means which is positioned in front of the at least one sensor in respect of the direction of travel. The protection means protects the sensor of damages by environmental influences and/or contamination and/or fragments which lie on the railway. To circumvent a collision of the sensors with possible interfering pieces the protection means have preferably a clearance means such as a shovel that guides possible interfering pieces away from the rail and thus away from the sensors.

In a variation of the wheel assembly according to the invention, each wheel is intercon- nected to a brake disc wherein the brake disc is arranged outside of the wheel. Furthermore, a driving motor may be preferably arranged outside of the wheel and is interconnected to the wheel by a gear box. Hereby, a rotation axis of the brake disc is arranged at an angle with respect to the rotation axis of the respective wheel. However, it is also possible to arrange the brake disc inside of a wheel being interconnected to a brake caliper attached to the respective hub.

A control unit is interconnected to the at least one sensor, the actuator and a steering unit. The control unit receives data from the at least one interconnected sensor. It compares the data received from the at least one sensor with a predefined parameter. As soon as the measured value of the at least one sensor deviates by a certain value from the predefined parameter, it activates the actuator to counter-steer. As a result, the upcoming measured values by the at least one sensor should be altered so that the deviation to the predefined parameter is reduced. In the case of multiple sensors, multiple predefined parameters for each sensor are possible. Furthermore, each predefined parameter may further be interconnected to at least one other predefined parameter and/or may be dependent on multiple sensors.

If appropriate a fifth sensor may be present which is interconnected to a chassis and to the control unit. Wherein the control unit determines out of the measured quantities of the fifth sensor a track type and /or a track curvature and /or track anomalies of the rails in front of the wheel assembly in the direction of travel.

Additionally or supplementary, the control unit may be interconnected to a position determining system which provides information about the position of the wheel assembly along the rail, such as e.g. a GPS sensor. The fifth sensor relays the position to the control unit, which reverts to a stored data-set with information of the rails. In that way the track type and/or the track curvature and/or the track anomalies of the rails in front of the wheel assembly in the direction of travel can be retrieved. The data of the upcoming track status may be used for presetting certain control strategies such as for a change of the curve radii or of the track type. A chassis of a vehicle guided on a railway track normally comprises at least two wheel assemblies as described above. The rolling surface of the wheel may be e.g. conical or cylindrical or barrel-shaped. Depending on the field of application a multiple set of wheel assemblies is also possible which are linked to each other by the control unit. By linking the sensors of the wheel assemblies to each other a very robust and self-stabilizing behavior can be achieved.

Alternatively or in addition, instead of one sensor a sensor array can be used instead of a single sensor to enhance e.g. the accuracy. The array may be structured as a matrix ( n x m), whereby preferably the columns of the matrix ( m ) are arranged perpendicular and the rows ( n ) parallel to the respective wheel. During operation, some sensors of the array may be above the rail sensing its position, meanwhile other sensors may be next to the rail. In that way, the exact position of the rail in front of the wheel can be determined through interpolation of information of the multiple sensors. A less complex system would be, if instead of the whole matrix, only the diagonal of the matrix is implemented with sensors, so that still information in width (direction perpendicular to the rail) and in amplitude (direction in line with the wheel) are available. Alternatively, either the number of rows ( n ) or the number of columns ( m ) are equal to a value of one so that the dimension of the matrix is reduced . If the number of rows are equal to one, the remaining one row is placed in front of the wheel and above the ( preferably inner) edge of the rail. In a curve, the sensors farthest away from the wheel will be the first to lose its position above the rail and hence lose the information about where the rail is placed exactly. However, for small radii, where the sensor farther away from the wheel will have a higher accuracy than the sensors being right in front of the wheel. The information of all sensors, which are in a curve essentially above the rail, can be used and interpolated by the control unit to calculate an appropriate control signal/correcting steering angle for the actuator. I n case of only a single column of sensors, the accuracy is dependent of the distance in front of the wheel as well as the distance between the sensors of the column. Using at least one wheel assembly on a chassis of a vehicle guided on a railway track, as described above, the method comprising the following steps may be applied for steering a chassis of a track guided vehicle: a ) Measuring a displacement of at least one sensor with respect to a neutral position where a center of the at least one sensor is above a inner guid- ing edge of a rail, b) communicating the measured displacement to a control unit interconnected to the at least one sensor, c) calculating a correcting steering angle by a control unit wherein the correcting steering angle is determined out of the measured displacement of the at least one sensor, d ) communicating the calculated correcting steering angle to at least one actuator interconnected to at least one wheel and the control unit, e) swiveling at least one interconnected wheel around a respective steering axis by the correcting steering angle by at least one actuator so that the at least one sensor is in a target position, where a flange of the at least one interconnected wheel has a target displacement to the inner guiding edge of the rail. The target displacement of the flange to the inner guiding edge of the rail can be chosen. The range is advantageously of about 0.001 m - 0.06m. It is understood, that the target displacement does not necessarily have to be a fixed value. Since the distance of the rails in a curve do vary dependent on the radius of the curve, the optimal target displacement, implying the wheel assembly being in the center between the rails with the same distance of the wheel flanges to the respective rail, may vary as well.

Alternatively, a second sensor may be interconnected to the wheel assembly, so that in front of the first and the second wheel, which are interconnected to each other via a steering rod, an additional sensor is present. In this case, both sensors have an individual neutral position to which a displacement is measured and communicated to the control unit. The control un it advantageously calculates the target positions out of the mean of the measured displacements of the first and the second sensor. However, more complex calculation methods to determine each target displacement of the individual sensor may be applied. For a simple algorithm however, it is advantageous that the target displacements of the sensors to the respective inner guiding edge of the rail are equal.

As described above, in one variation a third sensor may be attached behind the first wheel and a forth sensor may be attached behind the second wheel. Hereby, each sensor measures individually its displacement in respect to an individ ual neutral position and communicates the same to the control unit. The control unit may then further use the measured displacements of the first and the second sensor to calculate first target positions of the first and the second sensor, wherein the absolute value of the displacements of the first sensor and the second sensor are advantageously equal. Furthermore, the measured dis- placements the first and the third sensor may be used to calculate second target positions of the first and the third sensor, wherein the displacements of the first and the third sensor are also advantageously equal. Additionally, the measured displacements of the second and the forth sensor may be used to calculate third target positions, wherein the displacements of the second and the forth sensor are advantageously equal. From this information the control unit may determine a correcting steering angle by which the actuator steers the first and the second wheel in a defined position, wherein in the defined position the first and second sensor are in one of the first target positions and the first and third sensor are in one of the second target positions and the second and forth sensor are in one of the third target positions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The herein described invention will be more fully understood from the detailed description of the given herein below and the accompanying drawings, which should not be considered as limiting to the invention described in the appended claims.

Fig. 1 schematically shows a first variation of a steerable axle according to the present invention in a perspective view;

Fig. 2 shows a detail of Fig. 1 ;

Fig. 3 schematically shows the first variation of the steerable axle according to the present invention in a front view;

Fig. 4 shows a detail of Fig. 3 ;

Fig. 5 shows a variation of the invention derived from Fig. 4

Fig. 6 shows a cross-section of the steerable axle of Fig. 1 and 3 ;

Fig. 7 schematically shows a second variation with a chassis comprising two steerable axles according to the present invention in a perspective view;

Fig. 8 schematically shows the chassis of Fig. 6 in a side view. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of the preferred variations of the invention, are better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purposes of illustrating the invention, an embodiment that is presently preferred, in which like numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the specific methods and instrumentalities disclosed.

Figure 1 shows a first variation of the wheel assembly 2 according to the invention. The wheel assembly 2 comprises a first and a second wheel 13, 14, each with a wheel flange 17 and wheel rolling surface 18. Each wheel 13, 14 turns around a rotation axis 15, 16 and can be swiveled around a steering axis 11, 12. Both steering axes are orientated above the corresponding rail and in the region of the supporting point 19 between each wheel 13, 14 and the corresponding rail 3. The steerable wheels 13, 14 are further interconnected to a cross member 4 and a steering rod 23. Through the steering rod 23, an actuator 21 can steer both wheels 13, 14 simultaneously. The actuator 21 is attached to the cross-member 4 and is placed between the two wheels 13, 14. In front of and behind each wheel 13, 14a sensor 20a-d is placed, which is attached to the hub 7, 8 of the wheel 13, 14 through a sensor mounting 34, 35. Hence, if the wheel 13, 14 has a certain angle in respect to the rail 3, the sensors 20a-d are inclined together with the wheel 13, 14. The sensors 20a-d sense its position in respect to an inner guiding edge 24 and /or flank of the rail 3 underneath the same and therefore gains a measure for the angle of the wheel to the respective rail 3. In this case, the sensors 20a-d are inductive sensors, however, other sensing means such as e.g. laser and/or optical sensors are possible. Figure 2 shows a detail view (detail D) of the sensor arrangement of sensor 20a of Figure 1 . The first sensor 20a is interconnected to a first sensor mounting 34 which is interconnected to the steerable wheel 1 3. The height and lateral displacement of the first sensor 20a in respect to the rail 3 can be adjusted though sensor adjustment means 43.

Figure 3 shows the wheel assembly 2 in a front view, meanwhile Figure 4 depicts the details of Figure 3 of the first sensor mounting 34 and the position of the first sensor 20a. Here, the exact placement of the first sensor 20a in respect to the rail 3 can be seen in a neutral position. With help of the adjustment means 43 , the sensor 20a is orientated substantial central above the inner guid ing edge of the rail 24 in a height preferably between 0.04 m and 0.5 m. The magnetic field 33 form the inductive sensor 20a reaching to the rail 3 is illustrated schematically.

Figure 5 shows a rail 3 with a groove 25 in which the flange 1 7 of a wheel 1 3 , 1 4 is guided. The groove 25 is formed by two flanks 27 and two upper edges of the groove 26. In the case of a grooved railway, the wheel assembly 2 is steered by means of at least one sensor 20 that measures its position in respect to the groove 25. Hereby the sensor may use either upper edges 24 as reference and/or the flanks 27 of the groove 25. Switching of the relevant references and/or combining signals of different sensors is possible if the condition requires it.

Figure 6 depicts a section view of the first wheel 1 3 comprising the wheel ' s rolling surface 1 8 as well as the wheel flange 1 7 and wheel spokes 42 turning around a first rotational axis 1 5. The wheel 1 3 further comprises a first hub 7 which is not turning around the first rotational axis 1 5. Therefore, wheel bearings 38 are placed on the first hub 7. The first hub 7 is further interconnected to the cross-member 4 through a first steering joint 9 which comprises a joint shaft 39 and a joint bushing 40 around which the wheel is steerable. This is further indicated by the first steering axis 1 1 which is placed concentrically within the joint shaft 39. The joint shaft 39 extends through a section of the cross-member 4 and penetrates in a designated depression of the first hub 7. On the cross-member 4 spring assemblies 36 are arranged. Furthermore, the interconnection of the first sensor mounting 34 to the first hub 7 can be seen; meanwhile the interconnection of the wheel 1 3 to the steering rod 23 to steer the wheel around the first steering axis 1 1 cannot be seen in this section view.

Figure 7 and Figure 8 illustrate the chassis 1 comprising two wheel assemblies 2 according to the invention. On each wheel assembly 2 spring assemblies 36 are attached on the cross-member 4 and a frame 41 is embedded on the spring assemblies 36 of each wheel assembly 2. On both outer sides of the wheel assembly 2, gear boxes 3 1 are arranged and interconnected to the wheels 1 3 , 1 4. Driving motors 30 are interconnected one a first end to the gear boxes 3 1 in a way that the driving motors are placed in-between the two gear boxes 3 1 on either side of the chassis 1 . Hence, the rotational axis of the driving motors 30 and the rotational axis 1 5, 1 6 of the wheels 1 3 , 1 4 are essentially perpendicular to each other and the gearbox 3 1 is a right angle gear box. A brake disc 29 is interconnected to a second end of each driving motor 30 so that the two brake discs 29 of the two wheels 1 3 , 1 4 on one rails 3 are in close proximity facing each other. An electromagnetic rail brake 37 is placed underneath the two driving motors 30 on each side of the chassis 1 (on each rail 3 ) between the two wheels 1 3 , 1 4. LIST OF DESIGNATIONS

1 Chassis 23 Steering rod

2 Wheel assembly 24 Inner guiding edge

3 Rail 25 Flank

4 Cross-member 26 Groove

5 First end (cross-member) 27 Upper edge of groove

6 Second end (cross-member) 28 Protection means

7 First hub 29 Break disc

8 Second hub 30 Driving motor

9 First steering joint 3 1 Gear box

1 0 Second steering joint 32 Brake caliper

1 1 First steering axis 33 Magnetic field

1 2 Second steering axis 34 First sensor mounting

1 3 First wheel 35 Second sensor mounting

1 4 Second wheel 36 Spring assembly

1 5 First rotation axis 37 Electromagnetic rail brake

1 6 Second rotation axis 38 Wheel bearings

1 7 Wheel flange 39 Joint shaft

1 8 Rolling surface 40 Joint bushing

1 9 Supporting area 41 Frame

20 Sensor 42 Wheel spoke

2 1 Actuator 43 Sensor adjustment means

22 Control unit