By Ed Sunkin
Akron, OH You’re probably familiar with the name Bose and the company best known for creating high-performance audio products. But did you know their research activities go well beyond sound? In fact, for over two decades, Bose has been researching a new system for automobile suspensions.
I myself recently learned of this while attending the National Inventors Hall of Fame Class of 2008 dinner and induction ceremony Saturday, May 3. (Thanks to my wife who received tickets to the invitation-only black tie affair from her job as director of marketing and community relations for the Akron Beacon Journal.)
Amar Gopal Bose, one of eight inventors to join the Hall of Fame ranks and the founder of the Bose Corporation in 1964, was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid-1950s. One day, after Bose bought a stereo choosing the best he could find he returned home, set it up, and found himself disappointed. The speakers with impressive technical specifications failed to reproduce the realism of a live performance.
”I knew something was very wrong because it didn’t sound like a violin should sound,” said Bose, 78. ”And I knew there was nothing wrong with my ears.”
Over the next 12 years, Bose spent his evenings trying to make a better sounding speaker. Extensive research in the fields of speaker design and psychoacousticsthe human perception of soundled to the groundbreaking 901 Direct/Reflecting speaker system in 1968. Its unprecedented approach to sound reproduction came much closer to the essence and emotional impact of live music, and won immediate acclaim.
Now, Dr. Bose is gaining attention in the automobile suspension industry.
According to the Bose website, the challenge for conventional automobile suspensions are two conflicting goals: passenger comfort and vehicle control. Current suspensions designed with an emphasis on passenger comfort, as in typical luxury sedans, deliver a smooth ride but allow the car to roll and pitch during cornering and braking. Suspensions emphasizing vehicle control, as in sports cars, reduce roll and pitch but sacrifice comfort.
The research program began in 1980 with five years of mathematical analysis to determine the optimum suspension performance, ignoring the limitations of any existing suspension hardware. This analysis indicated that a much higher level of performance could be obtained than that provided by systems using variable dampers and springs or hydraulics. The five-year theoretical study led to electromagnetics as the one approach that could realize the desired suspension characteristics.
The proprietary Bose suspension system couples linear electromagnetic motors and power amplifiers with a set of unique control algorithms. For the first time, it is possible to have, in the same automobile, a much smoother ride than in any luxury sedan and less roll and pitch than in any sports car. The Bose research vehicle provides superior comfort by gliding smoothly over bumpy roads and superior control by keeping the car body level during aggressive maneuvers.
The technology of this system is impressive. For more information and details of the technology, visit the Bose site.
There also is a technical white paper in our Training Center on the Bose Suspension System.
And who knows. Maybe Dr, Bose will one day be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.