Crane lift technology revolutionises site safety thanks to advanced motors developed for electric cars

Farnham, UK / Perth, AUS – Innovative electric motors developed by Protean Electric for next-generation electric cars have been adopted in a newly deployed technology that revolutionises the safety of lifting loads by crane. The wireless load controlling system, developed by Australian-based Roborigger, allows dogmen to rotate and stabilise the crane loads with a remote control, eliminating the need for them to be in the vicinity of lifted loads. The technology is being rolled out to construction and oil and gas companies, as well as to ports and logistics operators globally.

Roborigger worked with Protean Electric to incorporate its ProteanDrive Pd18 electric motor into its load controlling system. The Pd18 is a lightweight, compact, integrated synchronous motor and inverter package that provides a high torque output – ideal for steadying and supporting heavy loads – and a high-speed control system that enables precisely calibrated articulation of the loads. Following 18 months of collaboration, Roborigger now has commercial units available Australia-wide and in Singapore, with a roll-out to Europe, Japan and the UK planned for Q3 of 2020.

The Roborigger wireless load controlling system uses gyroscopic and inertial forces to accurately rotate and stabilise crane loads while they are being lifted and lowered, making the working site safer and more efficient. With Roborigger used to precisely control lifted loads, site operators and workers are no longer required to manually handle heavy loads and taglines, a practice that places them in direct danger of injury. Instead, load positioning is undertaken remotely from a safe distance using a wireless remote control. Advanced connectivity also enables the collection of data on every lift and transmission to a cloud-based customer platform, allowing easy maintenance and remote troubleshooting.

As Roborigger sought to upscale from small load controlling prototypes to units capable of managing loads of up to 15 tonnes, it sought a robust, sophisticated, ready-to-go motor solution. Protean Electric’s ProteanDrive Pd18 is a permanent-magnet synchronous motor packaged with an integrated inverter in a single unit. Following extensive internal development and numerous global customer durability programmes, ProteanDrive is now being fully commercialised. The Pd18 is an ‘in-wheel motor’ designed to be deployed in the wheel hub, rather than inboard where the power units of most electric vehicles are currently packaged. It is being evaluated by several vehicle manufacturers for next generation vehicle applications in passenger car, light commercial vehicles and autonomous urban mobility pods. One of its customers is Local Motors, a US-based digital manufacturing start-up that is best known for its 3D-printed Olli autonomous urban passenger shuttle .

The lightweight ProteanDrive motor delivers a high torque output that is ideally suited to a variety of applications, including commercial purposes, and Roborigger found it met the requirements for stabilising and accurately controlling heavy loads. Firstly, it was applied to a Roborigger unit for loads of up to 15 tonnes, and more recently it has been deployed on larger Roboriggers rated for loads of up to 40 tonnes. Direct drive technology incorporated into the ProteanDrive Pd18 generates power directly within the motor, solving the inherent issues and unreliability caused by gearbox backlash which the team experienced with motors trialled in its early  Roborigger prototypes. The controller in the motor also provides a simple set up which is customisable, to enable additional high-level start-up and protection functions required by Roborigger users.

Exceptionally fast control loops – 90% in 2 milliseconds; twice as fast as most other commercially available motors – in the ProteanDrive Pd18 motor enables the Roborigger to feature a very high speed control system, enabling optimum controllability and accuracy. In addition, the Pd18 is a very compact package that allows for flexibility of design and operational simplicity, minimising maintenance and repairs. Furthermore, with the Pd18’s integrated electronics, data processing and connectivity features, Roborigger can provide full online monitoring for its customers, delivering firmware upgrades, diagnostics and troubleshooting as well as data on every lift undertaken.

Chris Hilton, CTO Protean Electric said: “It has been fascinating collaborating on a project outside the automotive and mobility sectors, developing our Pd18 motors for other advanced applications. Roborigger is an excellent example of how the inherent capabilities of Protean motors offer solutions for systems requiring high power and precisely calibrated control across all industries.”

“The support from Protean’s engineers is one of the characteristics that differentiated them from other motor developers. Throughout the development process we worked directly with experienced engineers who really understood our product and requirements,” said Roborigger founder Derick Markwell.

“Currently we use one ProteanDrive motor for each Roborigger unit, but increasing demand means we are already looking at applications with two Protean motors, for even more power. We are committed to making the construction, oil and gas and mining industries safer, and the seamless integration and adaptability of this technology opens up a realm of possibilities.”


Protean Electric media contact:

Saffron Johnson, PFPR Communications

+44 (0)1622 766510 / +44 (0)7515 060527 / saffron.johnson@pfpr.com

About Protean Electric

Protean Electric is an automotive technology innovator, and a world-leading developer of in-wheel motors including ProteanDrive, a fully integrated in-wheel drive solution. Protean Electric’s technology is strategically positioned to play a major role in the hybrid, electric vehicle and future mobility market by offering a combination of packaging advantages, new vehicle design opportunities, performance benefits and earnings improvements. Globally Protean Electric has over 200 patents (and 120 patents pending) across 75 patent families with operations in the United Kingdom, China and the USA. It is a subsidiary of National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) and part of Evergrande Health’s ‘New Energy Vehicle’ Group.


About Roborigger

Roborigger is a company based in Perth that has developed an inertial wireless load controlling system to rotate and orient crane loads and to collect data on lifting operations. Roborigger technology comes with an internet-connected tracking software that collects data from every lift including time, weight, and the location of the loads being lifted. Users can access this data from a web browser on their phones or computers.


In-wheel Motor adpoted in crane