Electronically controlled suspensions have been on the road for years. But Tenneco engineers have devised a new type of intelligent shock absorber in which the circuit board, sensors, valves and electronics are contained inside the unit. That means an intelligent, active suspension system can be integrated into the vehicle without a major overhaul of the vehicle's electrical system or architecture.
More important, the shocks allow steering, handling and ride to adapt automatically to road conditions, improving comfort and performance. And moving beyond the common vehicle feature of selecting either a sport mode or luxury mode ride, Tenneco's Digital Ride shocks enable a vehicle to offer a selection of up to eight modes.
Ben Patel, Tenneco's chief technology officer, believes automakers will turn increasingly toward tunable suspension systems as a product differentiator.
"One of the benefits is packaging," Patel said of the smart shock. "It's basically a drop-in. If you look at the top and bottom mounts, they look exactly the same as a traditional damper.
"We integrated all of the electronics. It can be integrated into a current vehicle with no tearing up of the corners."