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Intelligent Power Systems

Annual Plan

Lightweight Electric Powertrain with High-speed Machines and Drives

Project Summary

Principal Investigators

  • Shanelle Foster, Woongkul “Matt” Lee, Elias Strangas, Michigan State University


  • Satish Udpa, Mahmood Haq, Michigan State University


  • Mikayla Benson, Koltin Grammer, Prerana Gunda, Benjamin Schuchardt, Bhuvan Khoshoo, Khan Jazib Islam, Michigan State University


  • Morgan Barron, US Army GVSC

Project began Q4 2022.

The primary objective of this research is to design and develop a robust, efficient, and fault-tolerant electric powertrain that has high power density. Details on the primary objective are explained as follows.

To design a low weight, robust, efficient, high-speed, high voltage electric powertrain, the initial and most important question to answer is “what is the best powertrain for the 1200-lb autonomous vehicle?” The mass of any commercially available components (electric motors and inverters) will result in the vehicle exceeding its proposed weight. As the heaviest component in the EV system, it is of paramount importance to seek a high-performance battery cell, packaging, and cooling system. The team will work closely with Dr. Chengcheng Fang’s project to minimize the total mass of the system.

The autonomous nature of the vehicle coupled with the safety of the soldiers onboard highlights the need for fault tolerant design and control without redundancy. The placement and volume of the components introduces complexity for developing an agile vehicle. System level design optimization requires thorough exploration of the full design space, including variations in component level topologies and layout. Trade-off analysis will consider weight, space, safety, reliability, and handling, to name a few.

The first year of the project will address the following issues:

  1. Identification of fundamental loads and mode of operation,
  2. Identification of vehicle dynamics,
  3. Selection of drivetrain architecture and appropriate controls, plus sizing (power, torque, speed etc.),
  4. Selection of commercial candidate parts for the motor baseline and the identification of what is preferrable and feasible to be developed in-house,
  5. Simulation of the vehicle powertrain with the alternative components,
  6. In the case that components are readily available, set up an experimental station and perform simulations with hardware in the loop,
  7. Finalize optimal alternative designs.

Our proposed technology includes: (1) an efficient, high speed electric motor, (2) wide bandgap (WBG)-based power electronics, and (3) robust, sensorless vector controls. The advantages of this technology are its low rotor inertia, high efficiency, rapid response, and robustness.