Dubbed 'GenShock', the active suspension system is being co-developed in partnership with Levant Power – the US-based company behind the original technology – and features an integrated energy recovery system.
Claiming the unit will be a world first once completed and brought to market, ZF says the system is the future of automotive suspension.
Aiming to combine the ride comfort levels of a luxury car with the dynamic handling characteristics of a sports car, GenShock further intends to have the ability to convert the kinetic energy of driving over bumps into electricity.
Teamed to fully active suspension that employs sensors and a central computer to modulate travel at each corner of the car – rather than having four independent dampers – GenShock is fitted to the outside of a ZF shock absorber.
Comprising a control unit, an electric motor, and an electrohydraulic gear pump, the GenShock system uses a valve and an integrated hydraulic motor to either recover energy or power the damper fluid.
ZF says sensors from each of the car’s corners update 10,000 times per second allowing the system to rapidly switch between power regeneration and consumption. Steering and braking data is also provided and processed.
According to the parts manufacturer, as soon as the driving situation permits, the valve system uses the swaying motion of the damper piston to recover energy, by diverting the damper fluid via the electric pump motor. This action then acts as a generator with the converted kinetic energy turned into electricity and fed into the vehicle's power supply system.
Targeting a future role with hybrid and electrified vehicles, ZF says the system works at its peak on bumpy roads, “making it ideal for country Australian driving”.
With attainable benchmarks in weight, cost and power consumption keys points of the project’s development, head of ZF's car chassis technology division’s suspension technology business unit, Rolf Heinz Ruger, said, “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."
Further, ZF, whose continuous damping control (CDC) system is already used by the likes of Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Porsche, Rolls Royce and Volkswagen, says GenShock’s adaptability also means the technology could be used in truck, military and off-road applications.