Designed to be the vehicle of the future, Canada’s first zero emissions concept vehicle features innovative technologies and parts never before seen in a vehicle. Let’s take a look at the key design elements behind the sleek ride.
First unveiled in June at the Collision Conference in Toronto, Canada, the country’s first zero emissions concept vehicle is designed to showcase what vehicles of the future could potentially look like. Called Project Arrow, the concept vehicle is the cumulative work of around 60 Canadian companies that have each contributed technologies, parts and features to the vehicle – some of which are being debuted for the first time.
Project Arrow is the brainchild of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), the organisation responsible for bringing together the various companies to provide parts and components for the vehicle. The project is reportedly the biggest industrial collaboration project in Canadian automotive history.
Ontario Tech University was selected as the lead academic institution to bring Project Arrow to life, due to its research and academic expertise in automotive engineering, aerodynamics, electrification, energy storage and cybersecurity. The school’s ACE core research and testing facility also provided a unique space to test the durability of the concept vehicle; its Climatic Aerodynamic Wind Tunnel has the capacity to simulate extreme cold and powerful windstorms and helped test the vehicle under a full range of harsh weather conditions.
Andrew Genovese, a fourth-year automotive engineering student from Ontario Tech who worked on the build for Project Arrow, shares some of the key design features that went into the concept vehicle.
“The design of the vehicle was not only to look stylish and sporty, but also to be aerodynamically efficient,” he says. “This starts off with having the windshield wipers hidden under the back of the hood and no traditional side view mirrors – but rather, what we call wing cameras – no door handles, and lastly, low drag style rims.”
In terms of technology, Project Arrow is loaded with a lot of new types of technology. Genovese worked on the installation of body panels, subframes, suspension systems, brake lines, motors, and more. He was also involved with the manufacturing of parts, as well as the logistics of shipping parts for the project.
“From the top down, you can see a solar powered sunroof on top of the vehicle, a 3D printed chassis, and smart textiles from Myant built into the steering wheel,” he adds. “Also included is technology from Axcessiom, which uses gesture control and facial recognition technology to allow those with disabilities to drive the vehicle. AI powered sensors from Pontosense are also included, which measures presence, passenger localisation, and classifies occupants within a vehicle. In addition, there are seats to detect the heart rate of the driver and passengers, speakerless audio system through the use of transducers, graphene enhanced battery pack to increase the thermal insulation, as well as autonomous technology to automate the vehicle.”
OVERCOMING ENGINEERING CHALLENGES
As can be expected within a project that combines so many new and innovative technologies and parts, there were several engineering challenges faced by the team over the duration of the build.
“When parts began to arrive and it was time to assemble the vehicle, there were challenges faced with the sizing and fitment of some parts,” Genovese explains. “With customised parts, sometimes they would not be exact replicas of what was designed in computer aided design (CAD). This would usually mean the part would have to be modified – whether that was by cutting or rounding a certain edge, building material on the A surface of the part, installing threaded inserts to allow for a tighter fit in specific areas of the piece, or adding shims to help with alignment. Sometimes, extra brackets would be made for support, and sometimes parts needed to be remade out of a new material, either for extra strength and/or lightweighting. Being creative was crucial for successfully putting together the vehicle. As assembly didn’t always go as planned, coming up with solutions on the go was critical.”
Now that we know more about some of the technologies and design choices involved in the project, what is the vehicle capable in terms of both performance and limiting environmental impact?
“Underneath the hood you will not find an engine, but instead we have a front trunk, or a ‘frunk’ for short,” says Genovese. “Beneath the frunk there is a motor and gearbox, and this layout is duplicated underneath the trunk, allowing the vehicle to be all-wheel drive, and putting out a combined 550 horsepower. Another performance measure which is important is the range of the vehicle which sits at 500km on a single charge.”
Project Arrow, being a zero emissions vehicle, is designed to help reduce carbon footprint in the automotive sector. “Starting from having a solar powered sunroof to store energy from the sun and power various areas of the car, this will reduce time at charging stations which effectively saves energy in the grid,” Genovese adds. “Sustainability is key for bettering the environmental impact vehicles produce, which is why we chose to use sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as a plant-based leather as our interior upholstery.”