Scientists at Tufts University have patented a shock absorber that converts compressive energy into electricity, which can then be stored in a hybrid vehicle's batteries. Called the Power-Generating Shock Absorber (PGSA), actually an electromagnetic linear generator, it uses "magnet arrays, high magnetic permeability spaces, coil winding arrays," and a linear electric motor to capture the energy of its motion and use it to charge the batteries.
One of the primary safety concerns with hybrid and electric cars (aside from thermal runaway of the batteries of course) is the potential for shocks with a high voltage battery on board. Formula One teams are currently developing kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) which provide hybrid drive capability for introduction in the 2009 season. Most are thought to be working with a flywheel based system but BMW-Sauber at least is rumored to be developing an electric hybrid. Several teams have had i