At high speeds, when driving off road, and when tackling bumpy road surfaces, many suspension systems encounter their limits – in the truest sense of the word. What if vehicle springs and shock absorbers were to react earlier and more effectively to uneven surfaces than they do today?
System and functionality
In a vehicle suspension system, the springs and shock absorbers undertake important teamwork. They connect the wheel suspension and body, and even out road bumps and surface undulations. The motor/pump unit developed by Thomas, shortened to MPU, acts directly on the shock absorber or vibration damper. The MPU ensures that oil is pumped into the damper. It intakes the oil in one location and pumps it into another location. The vehicle spring vibrations can therefore be dampened far more effectively than in the case of a classic shock absorber without an MPU.
High-performance sensors record road surface data and forward them via an intelligent actuator, which in turn controls the anticipated jounce and rebound. Optimal interaction of the individual components is crucial. The MPU consists of a BLDC motor, i.e., a brushless DC motor, an oil pump, and the power electronics with motor actuation. The objective when having to deal with surface undulations and pot holes, but also when cornering and changing direction, is to create a driving feel that is “decoupled” from the prevailing road conditions. The MPU eliminates lifting, pitching, and rolling motions in the range up to 10 hertz – performance that also benefits passengers who suffer from motion sickness.
Regardless of whether a combustion engine or an electric vehicle is involved – the system operates independently of the drive and offers great potential for applications in a number of other areas such as dynamic suspension systems or electric oil pumps in automated manual transmissions. The integrated interaction of electronics, hardware, and software demonstrates Thomas‘ expertise in developing smart system solutions that combine the Thomas functionalities of ‚Sense. Think. Act.‘ and thereby create genuine added value.
And what does that mean for the autonomous driving systems of the future?
The MPU is a prime example of the mission we are pursuing at Thomas. As a system supplier with interdisciplinary development teams, we can also implement and supply the electronic actuation for the MPU in-house. In the future, demand for innovative suspension technology will be more pronounced than ever before, e.g., in autonomous driving systems. We are well on a good and promising way to developing such technology.