|1||Please provide a short description of the state-of-the-art and/or current trends in the field? How does the result fit into it?|
|The proposed technical decision transforms directly a usual passenger car into a semi-automatic transmission equipped vehicle. The result is achieved by a direct substitution of the existing conventional clutch with automatic one, thus gaining the biggest advantage of the automatic gearbox – easy gear shifting, smooth and dynamic drive off and lack of clutch pedal. And all these advantages achieved without changing the standard gearbox. The automatic clutch is also much lighter, compared to its predecessor, due to the elimination of the heavy anti vibration mechanism, which allows about 40-50% reduction in overall weight, leading to significantly less raw materials, used for manufacturing. Moreover – the improved prototype does not have flywheel at all, thus practically having no rotation loss, but the friction is precisely controlled and transferred.|
|2||What is the problem/need/knowledge gap that the research result is responding to? How was it addressed before?|
|The development of the cities and their transformation in large structures with constantly growing number of vehicles, has increased the needs of automatic gearboxes and automobiles without clutch pedal. The standard automatic gearbox is an expensive module, very complicated for manufacturing, almost impossible for repair and with certain requirements for implementation, making this decision a costly pleasure.
The proposed automatic clutch owns all the advantages of the automatic gearbox – lack of a clutch pedal, precise pull off, easy driving, easy stop without disengagement of the gear, etc. The unique point is the extremely low cost of the module, the easiness of implementation in, literally, every type of vehicle, substituting the standard clutch. Highly cost effective, this unit could be easily integrated in vehicle production batch, even lowering significantly the production costs of the manufacturer, which is a very strong advantage for reaching the best available selling price at the market.
|3||What is the potential for further research?|
|The potential for further research could be seen in modification of the decision to match the specific requirements of the different automobile manufacturers. Also further development of the automatic clutch could help improving the abilities and the technical characteristics of the module.|
|4||What is the proposed method of IPR-protection? (patent, license, trademark etc.)|
|The Intellectual Properties protection could include registration of a European community utility model and/or industrial design. The internal research within WIPO registration system, revealed numerous worldwide granted by USPTO patents for similar automatic clutches, mostly researched by the leading automobile manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Scania, Man, Honda, etc. However, none of these patents resembles this automatic clutch. The technical decision of NITI95 company is completely different, purely mechanical. The proposed IP protection could be as industrial design or as utility model, based on the unique construction, compared to the rivals. Besides this, the researcher could apply for granting an international trade mark. When developing European market the company could apply for extension of the IP protection for Europe.
|5||What are the steps that need to be taken in order to secure the IPR-protection? What is the cost of IPR-protection?|
|The application for a utility model means that the company must prepare a description, clearly stating the differences and strong sides of its technical decision, compared to those of the competitors. It is advisable also to be filled an application for trade mark protection in the Bulgarian Patent Office. Further, when developing the market, the company could receive an EC IP registration, which could be extended into worldwide one at the last stage. The approximate costs for the first stage IP protection for the European union are about 7000 EUR.|
|6||What is you overall assessment of the scientific maturity of the research result?|
|The scientific maturity of the proposed technical decision could be estimated as average. The module is not an innovative technology, but actually a utility model. The unusual construction and extremely simplified design lead to low cost and easy implementation in the nowadays automobiles. This makes the automatic clutch by NITI 95 highly effective item at extremely affordable cost to turn a usual car into an automatic transmission one – excellent feature especially for disabled people.|