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Gill Sensors has developed a fully non-contact throttle pedal position sensor for a leading F1 race team. The sensor has been developed to add redundancy to an existing hall effect throttle pedal position sensor, improving reliability and removing all mechanical linkages from the application.
Consisting of three machined PEEK plastic components joined with stainless fastenings, the sensor is thermally stable, completely solid-state and fully sealed against any fluids that it may come into contact with.
Designed as a retrofit device avoiding any disruption to the existing pedal assembly, the pedal shaft passes completely through the hole in the sensor. The sensor is attached to the pedal baseplate using two custom M3 titanium fasteners, which also serve as spacers for the existing hall effect device. Though mounted millimetres away, there is no interference between the sensors due to the nature of the induction technology used in the Gill device.
The sensor is configured to measure 40 degrees of rotation in this application. The pedal position is determined by mounting a trapezoidal metallic target, referred to as the activator, to the moving part of the pedal. This then passes over a series of coils mounted within the sensor. By alternately generating magnetic pulses in the coils and measuring differences in response from the activator, its position can be accurately determined with update speeds of 5kHz, though with this technology speeds of over 10kHz are possible.
A Souriau 8STA connector is integrated into the sensor, with a 0-5V analog output configurable across the range of motion. CAN integration is being developed as a digital alternative to this output, with all the affiliated benefits in accuracy, connector size and simplified wiring looms. Weighing just 19.4g, the sensor is extremely compact and is a good example of Gill’s ability to produce fully customised, high resolution, high speed inductive microsensors.
Gill is working closely with the race team to help optimise sensor performance and activator design. A comprehensive programme of car and bench tests is under way, in addition to ongoing testing in house at Gill. As with most F1 projects that Gill undertakes, the required lead time to delivery was short, with the sensor required for testing and race use as early in the 2012 season as possible.