rubicone project

Ultra-durable powertrains in development for autonomous vehicles of the future

A consortium of businesses is developing an electric powertrain that will meet the demands of future vehicles.

Electric powertrains (motor, inverter, gearbox, battery) will need to be more robust and durable in order to withstand the strenuous duty cycles that connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) will cover in their lifetimes.

Current vehicle powertrains are typically designed for a lifetime of 150,000 miles, however the CAVs of the future will be heavily utilised in cities achieving that mileage in under a year. Therefore, there is a need to design ultra-durable powertrains to cater for this heavy-duty drive cycle.

Cenex, EMPEL Systems and Romax Technology, funded by Innovate UK’s Smart Grants competition, will collaborate on project RUBICON – ultRa-dUraBle electrIC pOwertraiNs – to design a novel powertrain by considering its entire economic and environmental “cradle-to-grave” life cycle.

Cenex will provide driver data sets and explore the unique differences between CAVs and existing passenger vehicles. This will involve investigating their commercial usage, high-utilisation mechanical drive cycles within autonomous mobility services and the increased emissions and costs of manufacture.

EMPEL’s expertise in electric motor design and power electronics combined with Romax’s 30 years of experience in performance simulation, testing and design will allow the consortium to improve on the current state-of-the-art powertrains, that have suboptimal life cycles, by taking this innovative and integrative system approach to the design.

Victor Lejona, Technical Specialist at Cenex, said:

“Autonomous vehicles in cities will be a reality in five to ten years. These driverless vehicles will have to withstand high utilisations of around 200 to 400 thousand km per year, which would deplete the powertrain life of current vehicles in under a year if they were designed as today. Therefore, there is a need to research the feasibility and benefits of designing powertrains for these heavy-duty drive cycles.

“We are delighted to participate in this Innovate UK project with Romax and EMPEL to characterise the use cases and driving cycles for autonomous vehicles and powertrains of the future. It is key to research the environmental and economic implications for the whole life cycle of these vehicles and not just their well-to-wheel impact.”

Henry Tanner, Principal Engineer (R&D) at Romax, said:

“It is understood that the future of mobility will be Electric, Shared, Connected and Autonomous. However, what is not understood is exactly how these trends will impact vehicle powertrains from an economic, environmental or design perspective. This project is an exciting opportunity to explore new ways transport will be consumed in the future and understand how these new usage archetypes can be used to optimise powertrains for the next generation of passenger cars.”

Jason King, Founder & Director at EMPEL, said:

“EMPEL Systems is looking forward to working with Romax and Cenex as part of this Innovate UK project, supporting with jointly developed analysis tools to better understand how future electric motors and inverters designs will need to evolve.”

About Cenex

Cenex, established as the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies in 2005, lowers emission in transport & associated energy infrastructure and operates as an independent, not-for-profit research technology organisation (RTO) and consultancy.

Our independent experts find the right solutions that reduce pollution, increase efficiency and lower costs, and offer informed commentary on the latest policies, technologies and innovations.

For further information, please contact:

Declan Shepherd, PR Officer, Cenex, +44 01509 642 500,

About Hexagon and Romax

Hexagon is a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions. We are putting data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, and quality across industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, safety, and mobility applications.

Our technologies are shaping urban and production ecosystems to become increasingly connected and autonomous – ensuring a scalable, sustainable future.

Romax, part of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, provides world-leading solutions for the design, analysis, testing and manufacture of gearboxes, drivetrains and bearings. Learn more at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division provides solutions that utilise data from design and engineering, production and metrology to make manufacturing smarter.

Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B) has approximately 20,000 employees in 50 countries and net sales of approximately 3.9bn EUR. Learn more at and follow us @HexagonAB.

For further information, please contact:

Robin Wolstenholme, Global Media Relations and Analyst Relations Manager, Manufacturing Intelligence division, Hexagon

+44(0)207 0686562,


EMPEL Systems is at the forefront of creating new electric propulsion technologies that deliver higher performance, efficiency, and value achieved through development of an innovate modular, multi-voltage, scalable integrated e-motor and inverter product family. Learn more at