A new agreement between Torotrak plc with leading US outdoor power equipment manufacturer MTD replaces their joint venture, Infinitrak, with restructured license agreements that will allow Torotrak to offer variable drive technology to other companies in the outdoor power equipment and compact tractor sectors.
“This agreement further advances Torotrak’s position in the outdoor power equipment sector,” says Rob Oliver, director, outdoor power equipment, Torotrak. “MTD will manufacture products using Torotrak’s single toroidal transmission for its own demand with a non-exclusive license and our full support. Torotrak is now free to provide to other customers the same proven technology that delivers cost-effective, efficient and refined control of outdoor power equipment.”
The single toroidal configuration of Torotrak’s technology platform originally developed by Infinitrak allows manufacturers to provide customers with equipment that is smoother and easier to operate. A twin toroidal version also allows fully independent control of each driven wheel. By turning the wheels in opposite directions, vehicles are able to turn on the spot, increasing maneuverability and productivity.
One of the most challenging issues in developing low-cost transmissions is minimizing noise levels. The precision and geometries required for refined operation with conventional gear sets can add significantly to product complexity and cost. To meet these challenges Torotrak and Infinitrak jointly developed a type of epicyclic drive that replaces gears with traction spheres, combining the functionality of a thrust bearing and an epicyclic drive stage. This technology replaces conventional gears with spherical traction drive elements that transfer torque through traction fluid and is now available to all Torotrak’s licensees and customers.
Torotrak’s work in other sectors continues as before. The company’s programs with commercial vehicle and off-highway customers continue to progress. Torotrak is also the transmission technology provider for a number of KERS projects that use a small continuously variable transmission in combination with a flywheel to recover and store kinetic energy. Advanced engineering work on variable-drive superchargers for downsized engines and CO2 reduction is also underway.