Automotive

Electromagnetic automobile suspension demonstrated

Electromagnetic automobile sus...
Eindhoven University researcher Bart Gysen and a test car fitted with the new suspension system
Eindhoven University researcher Bart Gysen and a test car fitted with the new suspension system
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The electromagnetic suspension prototype developed by Eindhoven University for SKF
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The electromagnetic suspension prototype developed by Eindhoven University for SKF
Eindhoven University researcher Bart Gysen and a test car fitted with the new suspension system
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Eindhoven University researcher Bart Gysen and a test car fitted with the new suspension system

Last December at the Future of Electric Vehicles conference in San Jose, a representative from The Netherlands' Eindhoven University of Technology presented research that his institution had been doing into a novel type of electromagnetic vehicle suspension. Now that a test car equipped with the suspension is about to appear at the AutoRAI exhibition in Amsterdam, the university has released some more details about the technology. For starters, it is claimed to improve the overall ride quality of cars by 60 percent.

The Eindhoven suspension is not only electromagnetic but also active, meaning that it doesn't just mechanically respond to bumps in the road, but is controlled by an onboard computer. That computer receives input from accelerometers and other sensors on the vehicle, and adjusts the suspension accordingly within a fraction of a second. While active suspension is nothing new (at least, not for cars), it has previously mainly been integrated into hydraulic systems. According to the Eindhoven researchers, however, hydraulics can't react as quickly as their electromagnetic system, and therefore can't match the smoothness of its ride.

As with existing active suspension systems, this one should also make driving safer, as it would reportedly keep cars from swaying into corners.

The electromagnetic suspension prototype developed by Eindhoven University for SKF
The electromagnetic suspension prototype developed by Eindhoven University for SKF

About the same size as a conventional shock absorber, the system consists of a passive spring, an electromagnetic actuator, a control unit and batteries. The spring – appropriately enough – provides springing action, while the magnets provide passive shock absorption. If the batteries should fail, the system will still work as a purely mechanical suspension.

With a peak consumption of 500 watts, the suspension uses about a quarter of the power of hydraulic systems. It also stretches its battery life by using road vibrations to generate electricity. The designers believe that with refinements, the suspension's energy-efficiency could be improved even further.

The 60 percent ride improvement figure was obtained when a single wheel equipped with the system was mounted on a laboratory testbed that simulates road conditions. Last month, a test car had the system installed on two of its wheels, for actual on-road testing. At the moment, each wheel equipped with the suspension acts independently, so the researchers are now developing systems for allowing the individual suspension units to communicate with one another and coordinate their actions.

Eindhoven University developed the system in collaboration with Swedish mechatronics company SKF, which has patented the technology and is looking into marketing it.

22 comments
reefingbuddha
Hasn\'t Bose been developing this technology for quite a while? I think they call it \"active suspension\" and its also based on using magnets. If somehow can tell me how this is different I would appreciate it. Here is a link to a video that was posted in 2007 but judging by the vehicles its a good bit older. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSi6J-QK1lw
Ludwig Heinrich
In fact Gizmag reported on the Bose system here: http://www.gizmag.com/go/3259/
Facebook User
I wonder if this system also allows ride height adjustments i.e. \'Air Ride\'? Also, rather than a battery, why not a capacitor; they are becoming next gen\'.
Blixdevil
As best as I can gather from the two articles, this is basically the same thing as the Bose system. Key differences would be that this system has the spring included and has no traditional hydraulic damper, where the Bose still has a hyd damper and has to move the spring somewhere else to make theirs fit. I\'m sure that the algorithms are different too (the control strategies.)
DFGoodwin
Corvettes already had this on some of the C6 models.
Gabriel Jones
The Corvettes have metallic particles in the hydraulic fluid that when under a magnetic field changes the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid.
Paul Anthony
Regenerativity should actually make this a positive contributor in Hybrids and all Electrics. I wonder what the voltage is that it runs off of? The reason I ask is that if you can match the existing system voltage in a hybrid or an all Electric then wouldn\'t you eliminate the need for a battery in the unit?
Eletruk
I think another new feature is energy recovery. That probably wasn\'t important in the Bose system.
Facebook User
May be more cheap, than the Bose Interactive Vehicle Dynamic Control (IVDC). The sensors and accelerometers can override the complex algorithm of eletromagnectic Bose suspension. May be too SKF/Eindhoven University system requires less energy than that, but Mr. Bose had a brilliant pioneer solution.
Dave B13
General Motors \"Magnetic Ride Control\" goes back to 2002 on a Cadillac and 2003 on Corvettes. It is also currently used on other GM brands, including Australia\'s Holden. \"Magnetic Ride Control\" uses a fluid that changes viscosity (think warm water Vs cold mollasses in your hydraulic damper ) depending on the strength (and maybe orientation) of the fluids exposure to a changing magnetic field. It\'s not a magnetic suspension like the Bose. (I\'m no genius, I just connect some poorly recalled dots with google, then post.)