60 percent higher ride quality through electromagnetic car suspension

Apr 07, 2011
The electromagnetic suspension prototype developed by Eindhoven University for SKF

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, Netherlands) have developed an active electromagnetic suspension system that can increase the ride quality of cars by 60 percent. Cars fitted with this suspension system are also safer because they no longer roll (sway) in corners. The system was developed at TU/e in partnership with the Swedish company SKF, and was recently installed in a BMW test car to be shown at the AutoRAI exhibition, Amsterdam, from 13-23 April 2011.

A demonstration of the new suspension system starts with a striking scene: a standard-looking, dark blue BMW 530i that hops up and down like a ‘lowrider’ in hip-hop video clips. “Of course that isn’t the intention”, explains ir. Bart Gysen, who is working for his PhD on the development of the system. “But it certainly shows what the system can do.” The car’s wheels can be raised and lowered independently in a fraction of a second. And this high speed is one of the most special features of the system. There are already active suspension systems, but these are hydraulic, which means their response is not fast enough to cancel out the rapid vibrations caused by irregularities in the road surface. The new system can do this effectively, which explains the better ride quality.

The system developed by Gysen was tested last year on a testbed that simulates road-surface vibrations on just one wheel. That resulted in an increase of 60 percent in ride quality. “We expect that this increased comfort can also be achieved with a real car”, Gysen explains. “And possibly even more, when all four wheels are fitted with the system.” The aim is ultimately to develop more comfortable cars that also have higher safety. This is because the roadholding is improved and the car no longer rolls in bends. For example a car fitted with this suspension system will be much less likely to overturn as a result of abrupt steering maneuvers, such as the slaloming involved in the notorious ‘elk test’. Gysen also believes the system will be attractive for use in ambulances. “An ambulance fitted with this system will be able to transport patients quickly and free of disturbing road-surface vibrations.”

The system replaces the normal shock absorber in a car, and itself has approximately the same size as a shock absorber. It consists of a passive spring, a powerful electromagnetic actuator, a control unit and batteries. The system is designed to be inherently safe. Even if the electrical power fails, the springing and shock absorbers will continue to work. The passive spring in the system provides springing, and the magnets provide passive, magnetic shock absorption.

According to Gysen the system’s energy consumption is modest. “If you install this suspension system on all four wheels, the peak consumption is 500 watt – half of what an air-conditioning system uses. Hydraulic suspension systems use four times as much power. And the consumption of our system can probably be reduced still further by optimization. This is only the first version.” As well as that the system can even use the vibrations from the road surface to generate electricity, which is fed back into the battery.

Last month the suspension system was installed on two wheels of a test for practical tests and further development. One of the tasks is to coordinate the behavior of the active suspension on the individual wheels. At present the separate wheel systems still work independently. SKF, which has financed Gysen’s doctoral research and has also patented the technology, is currently considering whether to market the new suspension system.

Explore further: PsiKick's batteryless sensors poised for coming 'Internet of things'

More information: The test car fitted with the new suspension system will be on show at the AutoRAI auto show, to be held from 13 to 23 April in Amsterdam, on the HTAS Automotive Innovation stand number E.01 (Elicium, Auto 2.0).

Provided by Eindhoven University of Technology

5 /5 (11 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Innovative use of solar energy

Oct 27, 2010

Working in collaboration with industry partners, researchers of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have successfully developed a Solar-powered Air-conditioning System for vehicles and completed a series of testing ...

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

semmsterr
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2011
Hoping, nay, praying that this makes it to market and becomes standard quickly.
Jaeherys
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
Just brilliant. I can see any company that developes F1 cars or normal racing cars will be latching onto this asap as this is just win/win for power required + increased traction.
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (6) Apr 07, 2011
Good example of European vs American mentality.
Where we would declare in our research that it allows better transportation of patients in ambulances where American research would declare that allows better transportation for their soldiers or bombs.

Just an observation of the many research papers i have read, dont take it offensivly.

the peak consumption is 500 watt half of what an air-conditioning system uses
...
the system can even use the vibrations from the road surface to generate electricity

Now this is my kind of deal. More efficiency!
shagrabanda
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
It doesn't say how it knows when to adjust the suspension: does it react to bumps as the wheel hits them or does it have radar/lasers to detect what's coming up? The latter would be awesome because it could react to huge imperfections like the millions of potholes and speed bumps we get in the UK.
tothal
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
Invented by Bose some 30 years ago.Watch http://www.youtub...6J-QK1lw
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
Good example of European vs American mentality.
Where we would declare in our research that it allows better transportation of patients in ambulances where American research would declare that allows better transportation for their soldiers or bombs.

Just an observation of the many research papers i have read, dont take it offensivly.

the peak consumption is 500 watt half of what an air-conditioning system uses
...
the system can even use the vibrations from the road surface to generate electricity

Now this is my kind of deal. More efficiency!


That sounds like getting something for nothing. The whole point of the system is to prevent up and down motion. If it's working well, you won't have many vibrations to power the system with.
Skepticus
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
Imagine a vehicle with the lot: Hybrid combustion-electric engine, thermoelectric energy recovery from exhaust heat, batteries cooling and radiator, KERS, solar panels on body work for extra energy collection, electromagnetic suspension...you'd probably can drive across the continental US for a dozen gallons of gas in comfort.
6_6
not rated yet Apr 09, 2011
Hmmmmm I need me some of these for my motorcycle

More news stories

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease?

The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the ...