Many shunting systems are clumsy or involve high wear and tear. The newly developed VLEX features a very special type of articulated steering. The radio-controlled road-rail robot is driven by four individual wheel hub motors. Steering takes place over the speed control of the wheels, so there is no need for the commonly used steering cylinders. It is compact and extremely flexible and thus an economical alternative to other shunting solutions. The ingenious vehicle geometry — combined with the innovative steering control system — allows for turning radiuses of 7.2m that are gentle to the tyres and low-wear. Also, a 360° turn-on-the-spot is feasible, if space is very confined.
BUMPY GROUND AND SMALL OBSTACLES: PRESENT NO PROBLEM
One of the chassis axles is a swing axle. This ensures that all four drive wheels always maintain maximum contact with the ground during rail and road travel, and exploit their full force. The vehicle can therefore cope easily with smaller obstacles, as well as chuckholes, without any loss of structural stability and traction even on load-bearing unpaved terrain. Track guide rollers are hydraulically lowered for rail travel. The hydraulic system also ensures that the track guiding units automatically readjust themselves and counterbalance each other. The steering can be hydraulically locked for the required stability during travel. Solid rubber tyres ensure optimum traction, which is also supported by the high dead weight of 4.5 tonnes. Thus, wagons of up to 300 tonnes can be moved.
REMOTE CONTROL WITH INNOVATIVE COLOUR SYSTEM
The joystick remote control is particularly straightforward thanks to a novel colour system: steering and travel direction as well as lowering the track rollers are operated intuitively and without the need for major training measures by means of colour-coded buttons. The road-rail robot can be safely controlled under all operating conditions thanks to the high coverage range. In the majority of the European Union, the radio frequency (433/434MHz) is not subject to registration or approval. “With its high manoeuvrability, high traction and intelligent drive technology with a pulling force of 20kN, the road-rail robot can be employed in all shunting operations and is easily and safely operated by one person,” says Ju¨rgen Schiemer.
“Another very important point: access to all relevant components as well as for battery replacement is possible through large gull-wing doors at any time. This makes maintaining the road-rail robot very easy.”