Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MyIdeas - Active Suspension

I had a bright idea the other day, and I was reminded that I've had some pretty good ideas in the past.

In fact, if I was born ten years earlier, I might already be a gazillionaire, because all my bright ideas have already been translated into actual inventions before I could figure out how to bring them to market myself (some might suggest that I wouldn't have had these ideas as I was just a product of the times and that, had I actually been born ten years earlier, the ideas I had still would have been actually developed by someone else ahead of me just the same, but that's just spoiling the fun here).

So, this will be the first installment of a mini-series called "MyIdeas", which will discuss my ideas, what made them bright, and what they have actually become. It'll also hopefully encourage me to go beyond just having yet another bright idea and pursue doing something about this one.

What is to be learned from this exercise?
  • anyone can have a really bright idea - even me, and even you;
  • the challenge is being able to make something of your idea, and today's social internet provides more opportunities to meet people to help make things happen then ever before;
  • you may not be the only one with the idea, so don't think it's stupid while the other person with the idea runs with it and makes the world a better place.
Without further adieu, then, allow me to introduce the concept of active suspension.

I was talking with the J in J&D's Auto Talk back in the mid-80s, and he said to me that car manufacturers dream of being able to make cars corner like boats and motorcycles - when boats and motorcycles corner, they lean into the turn, while cars lean out of the turn.

We went on to chat about the concept that the two in-line wheels of a motorcycle approximate the central keel of a boat, while four-wheelers have a very different central line behavior, and we also talked about how the downward force on a motorcycle is actually creating traction while a car is losing traction on its inside wheels made lighter by the leaning of the car (or, at least, so we surmised, youngsters that we were).And I began to think about how to have the car somehow take cues from the speed and angle of the steering wheel to dampen the inside shocks and stiffen the outside shocks when the vehicle is turning. It was 1985, and I had no idea that by 1987 such systems would start to show up in production models.So, there you go. A couple of teenagers "talking cars" had a silly idea that is showing up in luxury vehicles of the finest engineering pedigree, proving that our idea wasn't so silly after all.

Next - Airbag Seatbelts

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