Ballymena bus builder Wrightbus has announced that it is establishing an R&D Centre of Excellence in conjunction with Queens University Belfast to develop driveline and composite technologies.
The new project is a multi-million pound, ten-year research programme which strengthens the company’s relationship with the University that goes back more than a decade. Wrightbus already undertakes all electric and hybrid bus simulations and modelling at the University, and a significant amount of driveline testing and development for the New Routemaster was conducted at Queens University Belfast.
The new programme will extend the company’s capabilities in near-term market opportunities and undertake research to develop longer-term innovations and technologies. It will incorporate laboratory and academic work, as well as prototyping and application study for commercial exploitation for the benefit of both the Wrights Group and the University.
As well as driveline technologies, composite material development will be a focus for the new partnership. Modern buses contain increasing proportions of composite materials in their construction. The New Routemaster features structural composite construction in its rear quarter using materials found in the holds of ocean-going racing yachts.
In addition to Queens University Belfast, the Wrights Group collaborates on composite technologies with other organisations such as Bombardier, Caterpillar, Queen Mary University and Ulster University at the new Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre.