Print 15 comment(s) - last by Alexvrb.. on Sep 5 at 12:49 AM

  (Source: ZF Friedrichshafen AG)
The GenShock active suspension generates its own electricity, offers a comfortable ride and great handling

Making an auto suspension that combines both comfort and great handling is no easy feat, but a recent partnership has managed to make it happen.

Massachusetts-based Levant Power Corp. created the GenShock suspension, which offers the comfort of a luxury vehicle and the handling of a sports car. However, the company has had a hard time actually getting the technology into passenger cars.

But a new partnership with automotive component firm ZF Friedrichshafen AG could change that. 

"We are looking forward to working closely together with Levant Power," said Rolf Heinz Rüger, head of the Suspension Technology business unit of ZF's Car Chassis Technology division. "The objective is to develop the world's first fully active and regenerative suspension, make it ready for volume production, and introduce it to the market. Thus, we are promoting efficient innovations that are tailored to meet global requirements."

The two companies will work together to develop a GenShock-based active suspension that will handle the roughest of roads smoothly while converting issues like road bumps into electricity. 

Creating something like this isn't easy, because a comfortable ride needs a soft suspension for taking road bumps while handling needs a stiff suspension for control. 

But Levant Power and ZF Friedrichshafen AG have figured it out. They're working on a small, functional unit that consists of an electric motor, control unit and an electrohydraulic gear pump. It is fitted to the outside of the ZF damper. 

The gear pump -- run by an electronically controlled electric motor -- manages the oil flow in the damper. The damping characteristic curve adapts to each driving situation automatically, and the bodywork pitch motions during events like quick braking and rolling motions during "rapid evasion" are a thing of the past. The valve system automatically uses the swaying motion of the damper piston to recover energy, and the system escorts the oil in the damper so that it drives the electric pump motor. It then converts the kinetic energy generated into electricity and sends it into the vehicle power supply. 

It's not clear when this suspension will be seen on the road, but reports say it will be affordable technology. 

Source: ZF Friedrichshafen AG

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Air suspension
By Shig on 9/3/2013 1:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Tesla Model S already offers something that's better than this...

RE: Air suspension
By exeedorbit on 9/3/2013 1:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
Care to share a link?

RE: Air suspension
By ChronoReverse on 9/3/2013 7:45:46 PM , Rating: 2
He's probably referring to the Active Air Suspension option:

RE: Air suspension
By Samus on 9/3/2013 11:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
Air suspension is nice, I've owned two vehicles with it, one active system, one passive system. Both have pro's and con's. Neither are as reliable as gas shocks though.

RE: Air suspension
By Alexvrb on 9/3/2013 7:32:55 PM , Rating: 3
They're not regenerative, but the best current type of smart adaptive shocks was deployed in the late 90s. GM and Delphi developed and deployed electromagnetic (Magnetorheological) dampers back in 98 or 99 as an option for the Corvette (and high performance Cadillac variants). Nowadays they're offered by several manufacturers, including various GM brands, Acura, Audi, and Ferrari. They've improved their designs a lot over time too - as evidenced by modern Caddy "V" models and the new Stingray.

Judging from what I've read about these regenerative adaptive shocks (which the DT article is discussing), the existing Magnetorheo shock designs are still better when it comes to performance. However, these regnerative units might be good for use on high-end hybrids and so forth, to maximize efficiency without sacrificing much performance.

I haven't heard of Tesla or anyone else deploying the regenerative types yet. Regenerative braking is the norm, shocks not so much.

RE: Air suspension
By mike8675309 on 9/4/2013 11:29:34 AM , Rating: 3
It appears that the main difference between the magnetorheological fluid design and the GenShock system is that in the GenShock system is controls the flow of hydraulic fluid in the damper. The magnetic fluid design only provides control of the damper as the piston moved through the fluid. The GenShock system can actuate the piston forcing it to not only resist movement, but move in the opposite direction of force.

I can recall reading an article on early active suspension systems in F1 that could glitch and cause the vehicle to hop into the air. They to use dampers that can force piston movement opposite the occurring forces.

RE: Air suspension
By Alexvrb on 9/5/2013 12:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
Shocks are dampers. They dampen. It's sort of their thing. In that function, the Mag-Rheo dampers are superior to GenShock or similar designs. As for pushing back... if you're pushing back but less or equal to the force you're encounting, you're still just resisting. Which again, is what you want them to do. Not lift the vehicle above stock height on one side while cornering. Also you've got other hardware. Like springs.

Mag-Rheo shocks can move from smooth suspension soft to race car rigid in a fraction of a second - on a per shock basis. If GenShock was mind-blowingly, Mag-Rheo crushingly good - Ferrari and GM (on the Corvette at least) would have deployed it already. It's not. GenShock will be good for anything where a conventional damper or older adjustable suspension design was previously used.

GenShock WILL also be more efficient, since it can capture energy normally wasted. So there's a lot of vehicles (EVs, hybrids, mild hybrids) that will benefit from it - if the costs are reasonable.

sounds nice
By Captain Awesome on 9/3/2013 1:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds nice, but can their suspension do THIS?

RE: sounds nice
By headbox on 9/3/2013 1:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
or can it handle this?

(road legal car btw)

RE: sounds nice
By Reclaimer77 on 9/3/2013 3:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
It can help you make the ultimate drift, and cross over into the D dimension

By Stuka on 9/3/2013 1:30:40 PM , Rating: 3
I have to laugh because the article expresses puzzlement that this hasn't been adopted in cars, then describes the project as essentially in the research phase still. The icing on the cake is the reference to it being affordable. ROFL. Magnetorheostatic or even air springs are not even widely used do to the ridiculous expense. Who defines affordable in these cases?

By ammaross on 9/4/2013 9:52:58 AM , Rating: 2
Anything that's a "huge leap" in technology is always going to be "affordable" when it goes mass-market, don't you know? :P

By GTVic on 9/3/2013 2:32:32 PM , Rating: 5
I'm sure a certain regional transit board will figure out a way to charge drivers a tax for potholes that generate electricity for their vehicles!

Luxury First
By exeedorbit on 9/3/2013 1:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
Technology like this will likely see use in luxury hybrids first, and once adoption rates climb, the price will eventually lower enough to be considered in semi-luxury cars (think Accord, Camry)and so on down the food chain. I don't expect to see them in cheap cars for at least 5-10 years after they actually debut (given the fact that they're not even done developing them)

By CaedenV on 9/3/2013 9:14:21 PM , Rating: 2
Now Cal-Trans can bill their work as a 'feature'

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