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Sprayers of the future

01/11/2011 @ 10:57am

As equipment manufacturers continue to push the envelope in research and development, AGCO Corporation hopes to be at the leading edge as it unveils a prototype of its concept vehicle, the electric RoGator. Based on AGCO’s front-entry RoGator 1386, this high-clearance row-crop sprayer uses four advanced electric-wheel motors in place of the current hydrostatic motors.

“It’s a concept vehicle we’ve put together to change from a hydrostatically driven machine to an electrically driven machine to try and get better performance – like more gains in fuel efficiency – for these types of machines,” says Dave Lovell, AGCO’s manager, application equipment.

So what are the advantages of converting to an electric-wheel motor?

“Using electric-wheel motors on the prototype has delivered greater starting torque, smoother acceleration, and better braking control than equipment using a conventional-drive package,” says Lovell.

Lovell notes that it has a 36% higher torque, 35% stronger pulling force, 6% greater horsepower, 70% less hydraulic fluid, and a 20% increase in fuel economy.

Simple Design

And while it all may seem rather complicated, the design of the motor is really quite simple. Unlike previous types of electric motors, AGCO’s version has no windings, no rotor bars, no magnets, and no slip rings. It mounts directly to the gearbox. And key features include easy set up; speeds of up to 35 mph; 516 ft.-lb. of torque; and internal speed, temperature, and position sensors.

Motors are individually tuned and powered by a central generator capable of producing 650 volts of DC power. The generator, motors, controllers, and brake resistor are all water-cooled for achieving maximum efficiency. The generator is remote mounted and shaft driven. A central processor provides signals to individual wheel controllers. The brake controller receives information from the main drive controller. Disc brakes are positioned at all wheels for emergency stopping and parking. An electronic control system constantly monitors all systems to provide safe operation of the vehicle.

Improved fuel efficiency, emissions reduction, and increased performance are the driving forces behind ideas like an electric-drive system. Concepts like these will continue to be studied to explore their extension into other applications and vehicles. In fact, AGCO is experimenting with this same technology in its windrowers and combines.

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