In 1986, Bose Made This Incredible Self-Leveling Car Suspension

Video: These days, magnetorheological dampers are nothing special; they're used in Mercedes and Porsche and other cars alongside more traditional air- and coil-based suspension systems, offering adjustable suspension damping and spring rates at the push of a button. But in the 1980s, electromagnetic suspension was weird, and new, and one of the world's best known audio companies had a crack at it.

As part of its look behind the scenes of Bose, Cnet made this quick look at one of the company's more experimental products — a set of electromagnetic car suspension that held a late '80s Lexus LS400 steady and flat, even over complex bumps and through twisting chicanes. It even has a jump button. Ultimately abandoned due to its heavy weight and electrical complexity, the system was a precursor to the less visually impressive magnetorheological dampers that are in sports and luxury cars today.


    Very cool Campbell thanks for sharing.

    Wow... incredible stuff. Can imagine that car being used as a getaway car and jumping over a row of road spikes as police look on in awe.

    This is NOTHING like magnetorheological damping. As I heard about it, it used sensors ahead of the wheels that sent signals to the suspension to raise or lower each wheel independently, in order to keep the car level.

    Magnetorheological dampers are just shock absorbers filled with special fluid, they don't replace coil springs, nor do they allow for adjustable spring rates (only adjustabe damping). You also left off the company who invented it, General Motors, who I imagine get nice, fat royalty cheques from Porsche and everyone else who uses the technology.

      It's the closest analogue we have to electromag suspension these days, though, in a per-corner/per-damper way.

        Not really. My Astra has adjustable suspension that doesn't use MRC. The shocks just have valves with variable flow rates and the electronics can change them individually to help keep the car level during things like emergency braking.

    The Lexus LS wasn't released until later 89. So not sure how Bose fitted it way back in 86.

      I believe that's the point at which they fitted it to road vehicles for comparison.

    Well it is really just 4 "really-powerful" speaker coils and some sensors for Model Predictive Control.

    Now we have the processors, the tech should be very low cost to manufacture

    Active suspension is back (usually the air type in posh cars) Processors are [powerful and cheap, what are we waiting for, jumping cars for the 21 century. (some companies try to sell active damping as "active suspension, "fail")

    Everyone gets confused by tech jargon like "Eletcro-Magnetic" must be like magic.

    All control problems are basically frequency problems, bump cancelling and noise cancelling, what is the difference.

    Last edited 09/02/16 11:56 am

    I owned 2 of these, same colours as the one in the pic too!

    Both were UCF10's The Japanese (toyota) equivalent of the Lexus LS400
    Awesome luxurious cars, with a 1UZ engine = V8.

    The airbag suspension function was pretty neat.

    Last edited 09/02/16 1:56 pm

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