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Design and Control of Vehicle Trailer with Onboard Power Supply

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-4614, e-ISSN: 1946-4622
Published April 14, 2015 by SAE International in United States
Design and Control of Vehicle Trailer with Onboard Power Supply
Citation: Sankara Narayanan, S. and Peters, D., "Design and Control of Vehicle Trailer with Onboard Power Supply," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars – Electron. Electr. Syst. 8(1):32-40, 2015,
Language: English


Typically, when someone needs to perform occasional towing tasks, such as towing a boat on a trailer, they have two choices. They can either purchase a larger, more powerful vehicle than they require for their regular usage, or they can rent a larger vehicle when they need to tow something. In this project, we propose a third alternative: a trailer with an on-board power supply, which can be towed by a small vehicle. This system requires a means of sensing how much power the trailer's power supply should provide, and an appropriate control system to provide this power. In this project, we design and model the trailer, a standard small car, and the control system, and evaluate the concept's feasibility. We have selected a suitable power source for the trailer, a DC motor, coupled directly to the trailer's single drive wheel, which allow us to dispense with the need for a differential. The trailer hitch is designed to include force sensing capability, to determine whether the trailer is moving under its own power or being towed by the vehicle. There is a control system, designed to maintain a zero force in the hitch, thus ensuring that the trailer is providing enough power. This system will enable someone with occasional towing needs to perform these tasks with their standard vehicle, and avoid the need for a larger vehicle.