This Audi suspension system uses bumpy roads to generate electricity

2017 Audi A4
Andrew Hard/Digital Trends
Hybrids and electric cars use regenerative braking to turn heat into useful electricity, but there may be other sources of energy in cars that are going to waste.

Audi has discussed using the up-and-down motion of shock absorbers to generate electricity, and now it has a working prototype system with the attractive name eROT. Combined with a 48-volt electrical system, Audi believes this energy-recovering suspension can both provide extra electrical power and increase suspension adjustability.

The suspension system uses a lever arm that absorbs the motion of the wheel as it moves over different surfaces. The arm transfers that motion through gearing to an electric motor, which converts it into electricity. Audi claims eROT recovered an average 100 to 150 watts of power during testing on German roads, corresponding to carbon-dioxide emissions cuts of 4.8 grams per mile. In a production car, the electricity could be used to power accessories, taking some of the load off the engine.

Read more: Audi takes AWD to the next level with Quattro Ultra

Audi also claims eROT offers greater adjustability than conventional suspension setups. Adjustability is important in order to strike a balance between ride comfort and handling, which require soft and firm suspension tuning, respectively. In eROT, the shock absorbers’ compression and rebound rates can be set independently of each other, which Audi says helps make achieving that balance easier. The electric-motor setup is also more compact, freeing up space, Audi claims.

The eROT setup requires a higher-power 48-volt electrical system. Many analysts believe these systems will become necessary in the next few years to deal with the increasing amount of electronics in cars. Such systems also open up the possibility of storing small amounts of electricity from regenerative braking or a suspension system like eROT to help power those electronics or a small electric motor in so-called “mild hybrid” or “micro hybrid” cars.

Audi has no firm production plans for eROT, but it does plan to put a 48-volt electrical system into production in 2017 on a new model, which will have a mild-hybrid system of some kind.

Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.

Forget 3 being a crowd, 4 is the magic number on the Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's sequel to the P20 Pro, the P30 Pro, has already started to leak ahead of its 2019 announcement and release. The company is likely to improve even further on the P20 Pro's excellent camera.

The best compact cars pack full-size features in fun-size packages

The best compact cars on the market rival their counterparts in many ways, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Here, we've rounded up some of the better options available, including an SUV and an electric alternative.

Huawei Nova 4 has a hole in the screen, and a 48-megapixel camera on the back

Huawei has launched the Nova 4, a new smartphone that has abandoned the screen notch and adopted a punch hole alternative, and also has a massive 48-megapixel camera. Here's what you need to know about the Nova 4.

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

California wants all-electric public bus fleet on its roads by 2040

California approved a regulation that targets an all-electric public bus fleet for the whole state by 2040. The effect of the full implementation of the regulation is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.

1,000-mph Bloodhound supersonic car project finds a last-minute savior

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has found a buyer. The project was going to be disbanded after running out of funds, but its assets were purchased by British businessman Ian Warhurst.

Ford’s prototype Quiet Kennel uses noise-canceling tech to keep dogs stress-free

Ford is ending 2018 by venturing into the doghouse market. The company's European division has built a kennel equipped with active noise-canceling technology and soundproof walls that help dogs sleep through fireworks.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.

Lincoln revives its coolest-ever design feature for limited-edition Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Product Review

Ford’s reincarnated Ranger feels like a car that does everything a truck can do

The 2019 Ford Ranger aims to be a tool for weekend adventures, and goes head-to-head with midsize pickup trucks from Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. Ford hasn’t sold the Ranger in the United States since 2011, so it has to make up…