Interaction dynamics between an electric vehicle's 'pantograph' and the road

Michael P. Hennessey, Max Donath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we briefly describe the patented E-TRAN electric roadway & vehicle concept and then proceed to study the dynamic effects of an associated road pantograph in contact with a road mounted power strip. During usage, the road pantograph (supported underneath the vehicle) allows power to be drawn from the strip for powering the motor driven vehicle. From a mechanical point of view, friction, wear and dynamic bounce effects impact the reliability and maintainability of the pantograph/strip concept. To study bounce effects, a dynamic model of a one degree of freedom road pantograph was developed for both contact and noncontact situations. These dynamic "bounce" effects were simulated using a MATRIXx™ based model of the road pantograph and associated road surface (and strip). In order to do so, several simulation issues had to be addressed (some of which may be of interest to those studying wheel/rail contact effects). To corroborate the dynamic model, an instrumented experimental pantograph/road simulator was fabricated. Reasonable correspondence was achieved between the experimentally measured and simulated support forces and pantograph angle. Parametric variations in the design were also studied through simulation. The work presented serves as a paradigm for designing, building, and testing road pantographs for specific applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-102
Number of pages22
JournalVehicle System Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge support of this work from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) under Contract # 69777.


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