Audi working on Power from Bumpy Roads


In the future we may welcome signs like this.

Harvesting power from braking and exhaust heat is not new; virtually all hybrids have some sort of kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) linked to the braking system. But now Audi thinks it has found a way to make hybrids even more efficient and has started to developed an altogether new system that can actually charge a battery from the bumps in the road.

Audi is set to dump the traditional damper system that insulates the occupants of a car from the vagaries of road surface smoothnes in favour of a system they are calling the eROT; eROT can recapture kinetic energy during the movement of the suspension of the car, instead of wasting it in the form of heat.

Audi is not the first to come up with this idea. A little while back, ZF came up with a simple bolt-on system that is linked to the conventional suspension system to recapture the wasted kinetic energy of suspension movement. Audi has taken the idea one step further though, by dispensing with the traditional dampers and replacing them with horizontally mounted electromagnetic rotary dampers, which is apparently where they get the name eROT from.

According to the information from Audi, the system was able to harvest up to 613 watts on a rough stretch of the black stuff during testing. This equates to about 0.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and 3 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre. This perhaps does not sound like a lot, but it is early days for the system and, well, heck, every little bit counts right?

Apart from the fuel savings, there will be other benefits as well, particularly when it comes to ride quality; Audi claims that the ride will be more comfortable than conventional active suspension systems; eROT engineers can tune the amount of compression and rebound independently, leading to a better ride. More than that, the system will have a lowered profile due to it being horizontally aligned, leaving more space in the boot for luggage as the dampers will not poke up into that area as they do on active systems.

The new system is still at the prototyping phase of development, but it does have proof of concept from the good test results. There is no news on when we could see a full scale version, but it does feel like we will be seeing a concept coming some time in 2017. Just think – in the future, we may actually thank our local road authority for leaving holes in the road so we can go the extra mile.

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