Key Innovations in Actuator Design in Automotive Industry



Automotive actuators are components found extensively in modern automobiles including passenger and commercial vehicles. Actuators commonly work to generate physical motions in parts such as vent doors, windows, sliding doors, and engines, through the conversion of energy from batteries or internal combustion.

Recent years have witnessed significant advances in the automotive industry in terms of automation. This has been a key driver for developments in the automotive actuators market for manufacturing processes as well as aftermarket upgrades for functionality in core mechanics as well as exterior features.

Car owners and enthusiasts are displaying increased interests in the scope of applications for actuators in varied vehicle settings. Consequently, sales of actuators through the aftermarket is likely to continue gaining ground in the years to come.


Key Innovations in Automotive Actuator Design

The global transition of the automotive sector from internal combustion engines to electric and hybrid designs has sparked significant interest in innovative actuator design. For instance, Schaeffler introduced highly integrated designs of actuators for parking locks and multi-speed electrical axles. The electric axle actuator design is based on active interlock transmission actuator design with integrated interlocking, without requirements for selector axis, which results in negative energy loss outcomes.

On a similar note, Piezo Direct, a leading manufacturer of customized piezoelectric ceramic automotive components have unveiled stack, ring, and strip actuators for automotive applications. Stack actuator designs are largely used as linear electromechanical drivers for actuators in settings which require high levels of accuracy in terms of mechanical displacement.

Ring actuators are available in unimorph and bimorph variants, which are designed to deform in a controlled manner on application of a set voltage. Consequently, they find use in air and fluid pumps in automotive components. Strip actuators are similar to ring actuators, but display significant displacement capabilities, despite small sizes and power requirements.

Automotive Actuators and Entertainment

Continental has taken the next step automotive audio system innovations, which involves boosting interior surfaces of the vehicle to amplify audio waves with its patented Ac2ated technology. The technology makes use of miniature actuators on interior surfaces, which generate slight vibrations in sync with the audio systems to generate sound, which changes the entire interior surface of the vehicle into speakers. Paired with Sennheiser’s AMBEO 3D technology, the system makes use of algorithms to boost digital source signals for better fidelity and spatial reproduction.

These innovations in automotive actuators can help automotive manufacturers to save space and energy, reduce weight, and will significantly influence the way vehicle designers look to modify vehicle cockpits with a larger degree of freedom, especially with a growing focus on minimalist design. 

Automation in automobiles is a key factor driving developments in modern vehicle design, with a growing emphasis on luxury and comfort, while keeping costs low. Linear actuator models are very likely to remain popular in vehicle upgrades with a very wide potential for accessories and essential functions. Connected vehicles, artificial intelligence, and data analytics will provide innumerable opportunities for automotive actuator market manufacturers to explore greater scope of functionality for the foreseeable future.