A new system called Lift which stands for 'Lightweight Innovative Flexible Technology' is claimed to save about 40 percent of a conventional double wishbone system's weight.
The revolutionary new independent suspension is made up of flexible wishbones with its ability to bend could replace traditional springs and dampers in a vehicle.
The project by a UK-based engineering consortium is partly funded by Innovate UK, the UK government agency which supports cutting-edge technology. The consortium consists of Simpact, a Midlands-based computer- aided engineering specialist, Ariel Motor Company and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The consortium will showcase the new flexible wishbone technology at the Cenex-LCV expo at the Millbrook Proving Ground on September 6-7, 2017, using a display consisting of a modified Ariel Atom front suspension.
Dirk Landheer, managing director of Simpact says the technology is not difficult to understand. He explains that the flexible wishbones attach to the chassis and their internal structural design control the wheel movement.
But the interesting part is that the suspension system moves in several directions and not the conventional 'up and down' system making it highly complex in detail.
Even the parts used needed very careful hand lay-up at present, with the direction of the fibers and the wishbones' thickness very accurately controlled.By applying dozens of sensors to the core structure of a standard Atom, and using the University of Warwick's measuring apparatus to record the car's behavior, the consortium was able to gather large quantities of data about the basic functioning of a conventional suspension system and then apply it to the design of Lift.
Currently, the product revealed so far is the year's backing of Innovate UK, the next stage would be to develop a running Atom prototype, but the go-ahead for that awaits the results of further funding competitions.
Landheer says despite the Lift being tested on the Atom, the system should allow designers great flexibility in developing future suspensions. The Lift is configured for a service life of about 620,000 miles with no serious threat durability problems and can be applied to both light and heavy vehicles.
Ariel boss Simon Saunders says, "We got interested in this because, though this was a disruptive technology, we could see it working. We're always open to new ideas; in fact, if it works, we could be one of the first adopters."
Presently, those involved agree that the project needs bigger funding but are determined to carry forward the work they've started. "We all want to be sure the intellectual property is anchored here in the UK," says Saunders. "We've reached the end of an in-depth feasibility study, and we think this thing works. Now we want to start testing."
The new flexible wishbone can change the dynamics of the conventional suspension system in vehicles leading to better comfort and performance of the vehicle.