Safer electric vehicles

Researchers test interconnected electromagnetic systems to improve vehicle suspension

Chief Investigators Professor Haiping Du and Dr Shuaishuai Sun, both from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, are developing suspension and advanced control techniques that have the potential to improve vehicle safety by reducing the prevalence of accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by unstable vehicle motion such as loss of handling and traction control and rollovers.

“The project aims to develop an innovative, electromagnetically interconnected suspension system to enhance vehicle ride comfort, stability and handling dynamics, and therefore the safety of electrified vehicles,” Prof Du said.

The project, titled Electromagnetically Interconnected Suspension for Electrified Vehicles, has been awarded $320,000 over three years and is broken down into three key parts.

“The first task is to develop novel electromagnetic shock absorbers, or ESAs, by developing electrical networks and controllers to achieve variable stiffness and damping, dynamic absorber, and active and semi-active control functions,” Prof Du explained.

“Second, we’ll develop an innovative electromagnetically interconnected suspension (EIS) through connecting multiple ESAs with interconnected electrical networks to enable switched control of bounce, roll and pitch motions of vehicles.”

“Then, we will develop an integrated comfort and pitch/roll/directional stability control system for electrified vehicles by taking advantage of both switched control of EIS and independent control of in-wheel motors. The dominant vehicle motion mode will be identified, making it possible for the appropriate control configuration to be selected and then implemented with the developed integrated control strategy.”

Prof Du and Dr Sun will validate the proposed control techniques by conducting laboratory experiments and field tests using a modified electric car as a testing platform.

“Passive safety systems such as seat belts, headrests and airbags have significantly decreased the extent of injury to passengers caused by accidents but our project is putting greater emphasis on active accident prevention – active safety control – by facilitating better vehicle control and stability, especially in emergencies,” Prof Du said.

While Prof Du and Dr Sun possess the interdisciplinary expertise required to conduct the majority of the research required for the project, the pair is planning to collaborate with several world-renowned leaders on specific aspects of the project.

“We will be reaching out to new collaborators and will be drawing on existing and well-established collaborations with experts at Australian universities as well as institutions overseas, including universities in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong and China,” Prof Du said.