Technical Development of The Conquest
The vehicle makes use of the front of a standard motorbike, in this case the BMW R1150R, fitted into a frame with two rear wheels. An automatically raising and lowering access ramp between the two rear wheels enables a wheelchair user to just wheel in and be secured. Conventional steering, a reverse gear and rear wheel differential helps provide all the required functionality and control from modified handlebars. All these features are encased in a streamlined and futuristic fibreglass body, which complements the overall presence of the vehicle.
The original concept for The Conquest, formulated in 2003, was based on a mild steel chassis, which was relatively simple to fabricate, but heavy. After some initial testing it was decided to redesign the chassis using aluminium to overcome a potential weight penalty. Whilst this was being done considerable redesign of the external body took place.
Originally it was planned to take a cast off the early concept vehicle as a means of manufacturing the fibreglass body panels. This process would have involved hand-working clay or foam models to achieve an acceptable finish and to eventually take a mould from these models. An arduous, time-consuming process, the end result would be imperfect, because of the imprecise hand-working process.
Whilst chassis redesign was in progress quotations were sought to carry out, by computer, exterior body redesign, restyling and master mould manufacture including production tools (moulds). Although an expensive process, the quality of tools produced in this way would result in the actual cost of each set of body panels being slightly less than originally budgeted. Being able to achieve a perfect finish was considered a sound investment. As a result it was decided to adopt the hi-tech approach and to produce an exterior in which all “A” surfaces were perfected and wholly symmetrical. This involved first digitising one side of the original concept vehicle body and creating a computer-generated mirror image of the other side. The chassis and the essential data-points on the BMW motorcycle were also digitised. This information was then transferred electronically to a design-engineering firm in Coventry who converted, and merged, the data into CATIA. CATIA is the automotive industry standard CAD, Computer Aided Design, software programme. During this process the body was restyled. In August 2004, the finished data was transferred electronically to a composites specialist in Blackburn who used a CNC (computer numeric controlled) five-axis mill to produce master models from which the production moulds would be made. The models were delivered to the sub-contractor in Hyde in October 2004 who began preparation of the models to produce master moulds.
Finally, the first working prototype was made ready for first-stage in-house trials in March 2005. Track testing at the Leyland Technical Centre’s track has been very successful to date.
The entire engineering processes, and the product itself, has been drawn in CAD and the data used for finite element analysis (FEA). This procedure tested the structural integrity of the product with particular emphasis on stress and torsional stiffness.
European Construction & Use Regulations have been adopted throughout. The Conquest has been built to the exacting standards and testing procedures set by the United Kingdom Vehicle Certification Agency, administered by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency. With North America in mind, technical aspects of the vehicle have also been design-engineered with reference to specific requirements of the National Highways Transport Safety Administration with a view to ultimately obtaining Federal Approval to sell the Conquest in the United States.