Under the codename Project Sound, Bose — the audio company — spent more than 30 years working on a vehicle suspension that employed electromagnetic motors at each corner. The motors could push and pull the wheel through the suspension's range of travel, and could work much faster than fluid-based dampers. Footage of Project Sound shows a test sedan maintaining flat body control over rippled tracks, and able to hop over an obstacle. OEMs never bought on due to concerns over cost, size, complexity, or weight, but we might see Project Sound on a car yet, now that ClearMotion has bought the technology from Bose.

Three MIT students founded ClearMotion in 2008 — back then it was known as Levant Power — to commercialize their GenShock, a vehicle damper that would convert damping energy into electricity to help improve fuel economy. We haven't heard much about that recently, but in 2013, OEM supplier ZF hooked up with ClearMotion to develop a mass-market product.

Four years on, ClearMotion aims to produce "the world's first ultra-active chassis system." The Bose connection isn't coincidence: ClearMotion Chief Technology Officer Marco Giovanardi spent seven years at Bose, most of that time as a research engineer, and he worked on Project Sound. However, ClearMotion was more interested in Bose software than the hardware; ClearMotion's unit uses electrohydraulics instead of the electromagnets in Project Sound. The tech firm — and the venture capitalists who have thrown $130 million at the firm — views its "digital chassis" as a boon for current cars, but even more so for autonomous vehicles, when passengers will want the most relaxed experience. Along with Project Sound technology and patents, ClearMotion bought the Bose Ride seat suspension technology for big-rig semi seats; the Bose Ride system came out of what Bose learned during Project Sound.

Related Video:

Share This Photo X