POWER FROM POTHOLES

PETER MCKAY

AUDI’S new suspension system turns rough roads into electricity.

Regenerative brakes have been around for years, but now Audi has created a world-first system that converts suspension movement into electrical energy, which can be used to top-up a battery pack and extend the range of a hybrid or EV.

The system uses electromechanical dampers connected to a lever arm, which feeds the kinetic forces of rebound and compression into an electric motor via a series of gears. This creates an electric charge, and the rougher the road the more energy produced.

Audi says the energy recovered is 150W on an ‘average’ German road, ranging from 3W on a smooth freeway to 613W on its roughest roads. Audi claims this saves 3g/km of CO2, which also equates to a 0.125L/km reduction in fuel use.

The range-extending shock absorbers are part of the unfortunately named ‘eROT’ (electromechanical Rotary Damper), which Audi chassis engineer Marco Willems sees as a “complete” replacement for conventional shock absorbers currently used.

Enabled by Audi’s 48-volt electrical system, Willems says the eROT system responds impressively fast and with minimal inertia, also making it a more controllable, active shock absorber.