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Electromagnetic automobile suspension demonstrated


April 5, 2011

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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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.

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.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

The Corvettes have metallic particles in the hydraulic fluid that when under a magnetic field changes the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid.

Gabriel Jones

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


In fact Gizmag reported on the Bose system here: http://www.gizmag.com/go/3259/

Ludwig Heinrich

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\'.

Facebook User

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.)


Corvettes already had this on some of the C6 models.


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?

Paul Anthony

I think another new feature is energy recovery. That probably wasn\'t important in the Bose system.


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.

Facebook User

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.)

Dave B13

Pretty sure Chevrolet Corvette has offered a magnetohydrodynamic system for quite a while. Driver selectable no less. BTW, anything in an EV that consumes electrical power without replacing it theoretically detracts from the vehicles range. Just sounds like so much \'Rube Goldberg\' to me....


Nice. Special for our roads.

Facebook User

Still trying to duplicate that smooth ride of the Citroen SM from the 70\'s! My first ride in one was through a pot hole strewn vacant lot in Culver City...over small logs, rocks, deep holes...and inside it felt like a smooth road...ride was so good Rolls Royce licensed it for awhile! And I see BMW along with several others have \"adopted\" the headlights that move in the direction of the steering so you could see around corners! That was probably, in many ways, the best car ever in production!


Back in the day, working for a garage, we would sometimes have fun at the expense of some of the lesser aware customers and tell them that their \"blinker fluid\" was low and pocket the $5 we would charge them for said fluid... Now we have shock absorber batteries are dead...I wonder how much can be scammed out of customers for that?


Now we can hope for a car suspension that earns its keep! with added value!

Leong Hee Chan

Hope they get video cameras forward of the wheel path, so as to enable, with a computer program, for an even smoother ride. d;-)


I\'ll take it. now I won\'t care about the condition of the BQE and LIE. Learn to love the pothole and refund my hiway taxes.


Before I left Stars Guitars of San Francisco in June of 1980 (I was the Guitar Doctor), we were using a product called \"Ferro Fluid\". It was a \"Magnetic Oil\" that could be injected into the gap between the voice coil and the magnetic housing surrounding it which greatly increased a speakers power rating, i.e.: if it was rated for 100 watts, it could, after treatment, take up to 200 or so watts before blowing out the voice coil, via metal to metal contact, and thereby having to be replaced.) Worked Great! It helped dissipate heat, and provided a cushion between the bare coiled wire voice coil and the magnetic metal housing surrounding it. It also came in different gauss ratings for different types of speakers (Bass, Guitar, Tweeters, etc.).

Myron J. Poltroonian

As to the Corvette shocks mentioned...here\'s 2 cents worth:

Edit: From Wikipedia

\"GM is the origin company of this technology as applied to automobiles. Many other companies have paid for the use of it in their own vehicles. As of 2007, BMW manufactures cars using their own proprietary version of this device, while Audi and Ferrari offer the MagneRide on various models. All Corvettes made since 2005 have also employed a dynamic MR suspension system.\"

Jeff Chernoff

with the right sensors \"looking\" ahead, this technology could be leveraged to prevent wheels from diving into potholes indpendantly. What a sweet idea that would be; a smooth ride and less damaged suspension, wheels and of course flat tires.


GM is the originator? Wasn\'t this in the Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT in the early 90\'s?


Now that looks like a neat suspension system. I think now they're issue is going to see what they can do about the cost. I do like the idea of a 60% ride improvement, but I'd have to afford it in the first place.

Davey Hiltz
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