Australian technology startup, OzXCorp, announced the release of the world’s first hybrid drive technology for a recreational vehicle earlier this year. This technology allows a caravan to push a car up a hill, regenerate over the course of a journey, and deliver a better driving experience across all types of terrain.
The recreation market has seen significant adoption of technology endeavoring to add value, convenience, and simplify user experience. One aspect of caravanning that remains a burden on every driver is the constant reminder that your caravan is affecting the performance of your vehicle, fuel consumption, maneuverability, traffic flow, and consequently the drivers mental and physical ability to remain alert. Many adventurers opt to buy vehicles that are equipped with significant engine capacity and gross vehicle mass to mitigate the burden of towing and power loss, however, this improvement in driving experience comes at a significant cost in the purchase of vehicle, fuel and the environment.
OzXcorp’s patented system delivers a holistic solution for all trailers, but specifically marine and caravanning sectors. The power of hybrid drive Day-to-day driving of your caravan is improved by offsetting the “dead-weight” of the caravan so that the presented load due to lateral acceleration is reduced, or in some cases, mitigated completely. OzXCorp Co-Founder, Andrew Huett, says “Start-stop traffic feels fluid and acceleration, or even overtaking, instills confidence and that reinstates enjoyment in the journey,”. The regenerative aspect of the hybrid drive ensures energy that was normally lost in your mechanical brakes is recovered, resulting in notable fuel saving and consistency of speed.
Trailer parking If there was ever a reason not to buy a caravan it is most likely due to the hardship of reverse parking your caravan into tight spots – common to holiday parks, residential addresses, or storage. OzX address this with the use of torque control, putting you in control of the trailer from your mobile device at a maximum speed of 2kph (1.24mph) with the ability to crawl up and over gutters, up and down driveways, and back to your vehicle to re-hitch.
Every keen adventurer will know that pulling a trailer through mud and sand is risky, and sometimes just embarrassing, once stuck. You typically have to apply significant speed to negotiate this type of terrain and in most respects that is due to the trailer acting as a “dead-weight” on your tow vehicle. OzX uses bespoke settings like Sand and Mud Assist, driving the wheels in a combination of torque and speed control to actively drive the trailer through mud and help the trailer plane-up on sand, not dig in. When enabled, Hill Assist will allow you to rock-crawl over extreme terrain typically experienced exiting a river crossing or traversing a rocky incline. Think of the trailer having either two or 4WD capabilities with traction control and electronic differential-lock. In combination with your 4WD vehicle, you have an unstoppable platform empowering the most adventurous of adventurers.
The hybrid drive system has added advantages of real-time stability control, torque vectoring, ABS and brake-blending. Systems that would normally be of significant cost complexity and fragmented architecture are now harmonised and embedded in the DNA of hybrid drive. Features such as torque vectoring would add a new level of controllability by braking one wheel but driving the other so that both the vehicle and the caravan have a responsibility to vector safely in a new direction In some countries, break-away systems are compulsory and avert an uncontrolled trailer from spearing into oncoming traffic at speed. OzX’s hybrid system immediately recognises a breakaway situation and applies braking, indicating and undertaking a controlled deceleration process. In an advanced form under research development, and in alignment with SAE J3016 (level 3 / 4), autonomous control would allow a breakaway trailer to self-drive at speed, negotiate traffic conditions and make a plausible decision to exit a highway and park.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew at the Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Super show’s AL-KO Innovation Hub to see this amazing technology.