Smart actuators are a relatively new innovation in the automotive industry. They combine actuators with local drive electronics and internal or external sensors to make dynamic adjustments to automobile systems, reducing weight and drag and increasing efficiency. Smart actuators are capable of performing diagnostics and include learning capabilities and memory functions.
About Smart Actuators
NMB’s smart actuators incorporate drive electronics and a motor into the actuator housing. They find their main application in active grille shutter (AGS) systems.
Every car has a radiator and a grille. Air streams through the grille and into the engine compartment, causing turbulence. The grille shutter consists of vanes that can close the air stream down and block the air from entering the engine compartment. This reduces turbulence, which decreases drag and increases fuel economy. The vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) decides whether the grille shutter needs to be open or closed based on the engine and outside temperature, driving conditions and other factors. The actuators open and close the grille shutter as needed, allowing the car to operate efficiently without the risk of overheating. The integrated electronics drive and control the BLDC motor and communicate with the vehicle’s ECU via LIN interface to receive commands and provide feedback about its status and events such as actuator position, temperature, over-current or over-voltage report and many others. Additionally, it stores crucial events aiding continuous quality control.
Active grille shutter actuators (AGA) feature a three-phase BLDC motor and have several advantages over actuators with stepper motors. Stepper motors provide the same torque during operation, while the BLDC motors supply torque on demand and only provide the torque needed based on the sensed force, reducing power consumption and stress. The actuators also adjust the current to pull at different temperature levels to ensure that torque is always the same, even if the temperature drops below freezing. BLDC motors exhibit a soft landing (torque reduction before the end-stop).