Regenerative braking is cool, so why not regenerative suspension? German transmission manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen and Massachusetts-based Levant Power have started working together to produce just such a system.
According to the companies, GenShock-technology is a fully active system for passenger cars which will combine dynamics, safety, and comfort characteristics with minimum energy consumption.
The goal is not only to recover energy, but to create a suspension that balances comfort and handling. A luxury sedan needs a soft suspension that absorbs bumps to give a comfortable ride, while sports car drivers prefer a stiff suspension for better handling. GenShock is a high-bandwidth active suspension that promises to deliver both.
“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,” said ZF’s Rolf Heinz Rüger.
“Ride and handling are at the core of the driving experience. With GenShock-technology, ZF and Levant will reinvent that experience,” said Levant CEO Shakeel Avadhany.
The core of the GenShock system is a new valve technology has been developed specifically for this application. The compact unit is composed of its own control unit, an electric motor, and an electrohydraulic gear pump. Driven by an electronically controlled electric motor, the gear pump regulates the oil flow in the damper. The damping characteristic curve adapts to each driving situation automatically, and is designed to eliminate pitch during abrupt braking maneuvers and rolling during rapid evasion maneuvers. It is also capable of actively raising each individual wheel.
The valve system automatically uses the swaying motion of the damper piston to recover energy, and guides the oil in the damper in such a way that it drives the electric pump motor. This functions like a generator, converting kinetic energy into electricity and feeding it into the vehicle power supply.