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Title:
A SUSPENSION PROVIDED WITH A LOAD RESPONSIVE DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/016690
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A vehicle suspension comprises a hub carrier (2) on which a wheel hub (6) is suitable for mounting, at least one suspension arm (6) having an outer end (6a) connected to the hub carrier (2) by a ball joint (7) and an inner end (6b) suitable for attachment to a suspended structure (S) of the vehicle, and a shock absorber (4). At least one load responsive device is arranged on the suspension arm (6), said load responsive device comprising a sensor (30) able to generate an output signal in response to a load applied to the suspension arm (6), wherein a control unit (40) is provided configured to receive the output signal generated by the sensor (10) and to adjust the stiffness of the shock absorber through a valve (V) adapted to vary passage cross-sections of the fluid contained in the shock absorber (4).

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Inventors:
BIANCO, Francesca (Strada dal Ponte Isabella a San Vito 116/19, Torino, I-10133, IT)
VALENTE, Arianna (Strada dal Ponte Isabella a San Vito 116/19, Torino, I-10133, IT)
Application Number:
IB2018/055274
Publication Date:
January 24, 2019
Filing Date:
July 17, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ARI - AUTOMOTIVE RESEARCH INNOVATION S.A.S. DI FRANCESCA BIANCO & C. (Via Volvera 112, Bruino, I-10090, IT)
International Classes:
B60G17/019; B60G3/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005021298A12005-03-10
WO2016078844A12016-05-26
WO2004013592A22004-02-12
Foreign References:
US4913457A1990-04-03
DE2505550A11976-08-19
EP2110273A12009-10-21
US5186042A1993-02-16
JPS63269703A1988-11-08
DE3918359A11990-12-13
JPS6092906A1985-05-24
FR2963072A12012-01-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VANZINI, Christian et al. (Corso Emilia 8, Torino, I-10152, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A vehicle suspension, comprising a hub carrier (2), on which a wheel hub (6) is suitable for mounting, at least one suspension arm (6) having an outer end (6a) connected to the hub carrier (2) by a ball joint (7) and an inner end (6b) suitable for attachment to a suspended structure (S) of the vehicle, and a shock absorber (4)

wherein at least one load responsive device is arranged on the suspension arm (6), said load responsive device comprising a sensor (10) able to generate an output signal in response to a load applied to the suspension arm (6),

wherein a control unit (40) is provided configured to receive the output signal generated by the sensor (10) and to adjust the stiffness of the shock absorber through a valve (V) adapted to vary passage cross-sections of the fluid contained in the shock absorber (4).

2. A suspension according to claim 1, wherein the control unit (40) is configured to adjust the motion of the vehicle based on said output signal.

3. A vehicle suspension, comprising a hub carrier (2), whereon a wheel hub may be mounted, at least one suspension arm (6) having an outer end (6a) connected to the hub carrier (2) by a ball joint (7) and an inner end (6b) adapted to be attached to a suspended structure (S) of the vehicle, and a shock absorber (4)

wherein at least one load responsive device is fitted at the ball joint (7), said load responsive device comprising a fluid device (50) able to generate a fluid pressure in response to a load applied to the ball joint (7), and wherein a valve (V) fluidically connected to the fluid device (50) is adapted to vary fluid-passage cross-sections through the shock absorber (4) to change the stiffness of the latter.

Description:
A suspension provided with a load responsive device

The present invention generally concerns vehicle suspensions. As is known, suspensions generally comprise spring elements, shock absorbers and connecting parts consisting of arms, hinges, rods or levers, which together make up the structural system that supports and connects the suspended structure of the vehicle to the wheels and transmits the forces at play. A special example is the so-called MacPherson suspension, which for simplicity will be referred to hereinafter. Such suspensions are characterized in that the shock absorber is "structural", i.e. it has a rigid connection with the hub carrier. Such constraint eliminates two of the five degrees of freedom of the hub carrier, thus requiring, in the most common solutions, a three-point arm plus a steering rod.

On such a suspension solution, the three-point arm is subjected almost exclusively to radial loads (vehicle axles x and y - horizontal plane XY - see figure 1 ), deriving, for example, from the forces received by the wheels when travelling along a curve or from the loads deriving from braking and accelerations.

On the other hand, axial loads (i.e. directed along the pin - vehicle vertical axis z) are not transmitted to the three-point arm, as the hub carrier and spring-shock absorber system are integrally joined ("structural" shock absorber); the arm is therefore guided in the high-low movement by the wheel without being subjected to direct loads in that direction.

According to the invention, a suspension is proposed for a vehicle according to claim 1 or according to claim 3.

In this way it is possible to have a suspension with at least one connecting member configured to produce an output useful for adjusting the behavior of the vehicle. According to one embodiment, a load responsive device comprises a sensor able to generate an output signal in response to a load applied to the connecting member. From the measurement of the loads to which the coupling member is subjected, one may determine whether the vehicle is accelerating/braking or cornering. For example, in the case of a transversely positioned suspension arm, if the vehicle is in a curve, the force detected on the arm will be directly proportional to the centripetal force, i.e. the higher the speed, the smaller the curvature radius, without the vehicle slipping on the road surface. By inserting a sensor on the suspension arm, the intensity of the centripetal force may be determined moment by moment and, by sending this measurement to the vehicle's control unit, the behavior of the vehicle itself may be modified, for example by automatically reducing the vehicle's speed if it is near the maximum speed at which the vehicle can travel a curve without slipping (which is found by equating the centripetal force with the frictional force between the road surface and the tires), or by acting appropriately on the shock absorber of semi-active suspensions or on the actuator of active suspensions in such a way as to improve road grip (by stiffening the shock absorber, the contact force between the tire and the road is more constant with better grip) and obtaining more sporting performances. The sensor will thus control the movement of the vehicle and/or the stiffness of the shock absorber, for example, by varying the damping coefficient of the fluid contained in the shock absorber of the semi-active suspensions or by modifying the dimensions of the passage cross-sections of the fluid contained in the shock absorber, and/or will control the actuator of active suspensions.

In the event of detecting the forces acting on the connecting member to assume the approximation of the maximum speed at which the vehicle may take a curve, it may be necessary to use other sensors to determine the friction coefficient of the tires, such as temperature and/or humidity sensors.

Similarly, if a sensor is placed on a connecting member subject to loads deriving from acceleration and braking, one may detect the acceleration and braking of the vehicle and therefore intervene in the behavior of the vehicl e on the basis of the signals supplied by the sensor. According to another embodiment, a load responsive device comprises at least one fluid device able to generate a fluid pressure in response to a load applied to the connecting member. According to a specific embodiment, such pressure controls a valve that modifies the dimensions of the fluid passage cross-sections contained in the shock absorber, thus varying the stiffness of the shock absorber. According to another embodiment, a fluid actuator fluidically connected to the fluid device is adapted to be placed between a hub carrier and a shock absorber, and/or between a hub carrier and a spring element, to move the shock absorber and/or the spring element along an adjustment axis in response to the fluid pressure generated by the fluid device.

Preferably, also a pressure multiplier is provided, fluidically connected between the fluid device and the fluid actuator.

When the vehicle is cornering, the fluid device compresses, sending the fluid contained therein to the adjustment valve of the fluid passage cross-section of the shock absorber. Moreover, the fluid may also be sent to a pressure multiplier, which in turn will send it to the fluid actuator located between the hub carrier and the shock absorber and/or the spring element. In this way, the more the connecting member is compressed due to centripetal force, the higher the base of the spring/shock absorber is raised, straightening the body of the vehicle and/or stiffening the shock absorber.

According to alternative embodiments, the fluid actuator located between the hub carrier and the shock absorber and/or the spring element is controlled by a sensor, located on a connecting member, able to generate an output signal in response to a load applied to the connecting member.

Similarly, if a fluid device is placed on a connecting member subject to loads deriving from acceleration and braking, it is possible to make the system responsive to the braking and acceleration of the vehicle and therefore it is possible to intervene in the behavior of the vehicle on the basis of output signals supplied by the load responsive device. Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the detailed description that follows, provided by way of non-limiting example with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein

figure 1 is a representation of a vehicle in a Cartesian coordinate system;

figure 2 schematically represents a first embodiment of a suspension according to the invention;

figure 3 schematically represents an embodiment of a suspension not according to the invention;

figure 4 schematically represents a second embodiment of a suspension according to the invention;

figure 5 represents a prospective view of a detail of the suspension in figure 4; and figure 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line A-A of figure 5.

With reference to figures 2, 3 and 4, a MacPherson-type suspension is shown, indicated collectively at 1.

It is understood, however, that the invention is not limited to such type of suspension but applies in general to any type of suspension for a vehicle wherein, on a connecting member between the suspended structure of the vehicle and the wheel, a load may be detected in the event of acceleration, braking or steering.

For the purposes of the present invention, "connecting member" means any member (arm, hinge, rod, lever, hub carrier, etc.) which connects the suspended structure of the vehicle to the wheel hub and transmits the forces at play.

The suspension 1 shown in figure 2 comprises a hub carrier 2, on which may be mounted the hub of a wheel (not shown), comprising an upper end 2a and a lower end 2b.

The suspension 1 further comprises a spring-shock absorber unit 3 comprising a shock absorber 4 and a spring 5. The spring-shock absorber unit 3 has a lower end 3a rigidly connected to the upper end 2a of the hub carrier 2 and an upper end 3b adapted to be connected to a suspended structure S of the vehicle. The suspension 1 further comprises a three-point suspension arm 6 having a fork shape, which is arranged approximately transversely to the longitudinal (and running) direction of the vehicle. The suspension arm 6 has an outer end 6a connected by a spherical hinge to the lower end 2b of the hub carrier 2 and to two internal ends 6b (corresponding to the two arms of the suspension arm) suitable to be connected by means of a hinge to the suspended structure S of the vehicle. In figure 2, at 7 is indicated a ball joint placed in a seat obtained at the external end 6a of the suspension arm, and at 8 are indicated silent-block bushings arranged in respective seats made in the inner ends 6b of the suspension arm. At least one load responsive device is located on the suspension arm 6 and/or on the hinge of the outer end of the suspension arm and/or on the hinges of the inner ends of the suspension arm and/or on the hub carrier. Such load responsive device is able to generate an output in response to a load applied to the suspension arm 6. In the example in figure 2, the load responsive device is configured as a sensor able to generate an output signal in response to a load applied to the suspension arm 6. In particular, there are represented two sensors 10 positioned on the respective arms of the suspension arm 6, two sensors 20 positioned between the respective silent-block bushings 8 and the respective seats that house the silent-block bushings, and one sensor 30 positioned between the ball joint 7 and the seat that houses the ball joint 7, obtained at the outer end 6a of the suspension arm 6.

The sensors 10, 20 and 30 also allow one to detect individually the loads to which the suspension arm 6 is subjected when the vehicle is cornering, accelerating/braking. When properly positioned, the sensors also allow differentiation between loads due to acceleration and loads due to braking.

The sensors 10, 20, 30 may be strain sensors, pressure sensors or displacement sensors or any other type of sensor adapted to detect the loads to which the arm is subjected.

The sensors 10, 20, 30 are operative ly connected to a control unit 40 configured to receive the output signal generated by the sensors 10, 20, 30 and may be configured to adjust the motion of the vehicle based on such output signal.

Alternatively or in combination, the control unit 40 may be configured to adjust the viscous damping coefficient of the shock absorber 4, or to control a valve V to adjust the fluid passage cross-sections contained in the shock absorber, based on the output signal of the sensors 10, 20, 30.

Alternatively or in combination, the control unit 40 may be configured to control a fluid roll control cylinder (not shown) located between the hub carrier and the shock absorber and/or spring member, or to control an active suspension actuator (not shown) based on the output signal.

The output signals from sensors 10, 20, 30 may be combined with those from other sensors placed on the vehicle to achieve greater accuracy. For example, a useful sensor could be a thermometer and/or a hygrometer, to estimate the tire friction coefficient.

With reference to figure 3, an embodiment not according to the invention is hereby illustrated. The same reference numbers have been assigned to elements corresponding to those of the preceding embodiment. Such elements will not be described further.

In the embodiment of figure 3, the load responsive device is configured as a fluid cylinder 50 (in the example, two cylinders positioned on the arms of the suspension arm 6) able to generate a fluid pressure (e.g. by compression of cylinders) in response to a load applied to the suspension arm 6. A roll control actuator or cylinder 60, fluidically connected to the fluid cylinder 50, is arranged between the hub carrier 2 and the spring-shock absorber unit 3 to adjust the height of the spring-shock absorber unit 3 in response to the fluid pressure generated by the fluid cylinder 50. A pressure multiplier 70 may be installed between the fluid cylinder 50 and the roll control cylinder 60. According to alternative embodiments (not shown), in place of the spring-shock absorber unit, only a spring, or only a shock absorber, may be used. According to alternative embodiments (not shown), instead of the fluid cylinder, another type of fluid device may be provided positioned in the area of the joint or the silent-block bushings or in any area of the connecting members, which may have any configuration (for example a membrane or a deformable wall) so as to generate a fluid outlet/inlet following a load applied to the connecting member itself.

When the vehicle is cornering, the fluid cylinders 50 compress, sending the fluid contained therein to the pressure multiplier 70 which in turn sends it into the roll control cylinder 60 placed between the hub carrier 2 and the spring-shock absorber unit. 3.

A flow measurement sensor (not shown) may be positioned between the cylinder 50 and the cylinder 60. Such flow measurement sensor is operatively connected to a control unit (not shown) configured to receive the output signal generated by the sensor and which may be configured to adjust the motion of the vehicle on the basis of such output signal, with the possible aid of a temperature and/or humidity sensor.

Alternatively or in combination, the control unit may be configured to adjust the viscous damping coefficient of the shock absorber 4, and/or to control an active suspension actuator (not shown), based on the output signal of the flow measurement sensor.

The control implemented by the system described above may be combined with the control implemented by means of sensors located on the vehicle.

According to a further embodiment (not shown), it may be provided that between the hub carrier and the spring-shock absorber unit, the spring or the shock absorber there is a roll control cylinder connected to a fluid reservoir thereof, and that such cylinder is controlled by a control unit on the basis of signals supplied by sensors arranged on one or more connecting members of the suspension. With reference to figure 4, a second embodiment of the invention is hereby illustrated. The same reference numbers have been assigned to elements corresponding to those of the preceding embodiments. Such elements will not be further described. In the embodiment of figure 4, the load responsive device is configured as a fluid cylinder 50 (in the example, two cylinders positioned on the arms of the suspension arm 6, or alternatively a fluid device 50 located in the joint area, or alternatively a fluid device 50 located in the area of the silent-block bushings) able to generate a fluid pressure (e.g. by compressing the cylinders) in response to a load applied to the suspension arm 6. The shock absorber may vary its stiffness as the size of the fluid passage cross-sections contained therein varies, through an adjustment valve V. Such valve is in turn controlled by the pressure of the fluid of the load responsive device 50. According to alternative embodiments (not shown), instead of the fluid cylinder, another type of fluid device may be positioned in the area of the connecting members, which may have any configuration (for example a membrane or a deformable wall) so as to generate a fluid outlet/inlet following a load applied to the connecting member. With reference to figures 5 and 6, a fluid device 50 is visible in particular arranged at the ball joint 7. The ball joint conventionally comprises a ball shank 7a for connecting to the hub carrier 2, a ball joint body 7b and a plastic bearing 7c interposed between the ball shank 7a and the ball joint body 7b. The ball joint further comprises a support 7d of elastomeric material provided with an armature 7e made of metallic material, through which the body 7b of the ball joint is connected to the end 6a of the suspension arm 6. In the example shown, the fluid device 50 is made as a pair of chambers in the support 7d made of elastomeric material and filled with fluid. The chambers of the fluid device 50 are fluidically connected to the adjustment valve V by means of small connection tubes 51. When the vehicle is cornering, the fluid devices 50 compress, sending the fluid contained therein to the adjustment valve V that adjusts the stiffness of the shock absorber.

A flow measurement sensor (not shown) may be positioned between the cylinder 50 and the adjustment valve of the shock absorber. The flow measurement sensor is operatively connected to a control unit (not shown) configured to receive the output signal generated by the sensor, and which may be configured to adjust the motion of the vehicle on the basis of such output signal, with the possible aid of a temperature and/or humidity sensor. Alternatively or in combination therewith, the control unit (not shown) may be configured to adjust the viscous damping coefficient of the shock absorber 4, and/or to control an active suspension actuator (not shown), based on the output signal of the flow measurement sensor. The control carried out by the system described above may be combined with the one carried out by means of sensors located on the vehicle.