A Smooth Ride for Less Than $3 Billion


The state of America’s infrastructure, and more specifically, its roads and highways, has been a popular topic over the last couple of years. A lot of this conversation stems from what is spent, and what should be spent on building and repairing them.

Although exact annual investment levels are hard to nail down, an article on Wired.com estimates that an $836 billion backlog of road and highway projects currently exists, and AAA estimates that the rough shape of U.S. roads costs drivers up to $3 billion a year in vehicle repairs.

Regardless of your thoughts on President Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan, I think anyone with a car can appreciate an approach that simultaneously reduces repair bills and improves the quality of your ride.

This is where Boston-based ClearMotion is looking to make its mark. The company is developing what it calls a proactive suspension system that goes beyond what is found on even the most performance-sensitive vehicles currently available. Instead of relying on hydraulics and electromagnetic fluids (e.g., magnetorheological fluids) to adjust handling and rider comfort, at the heart of ClearMotion’s approach is something they call Activalve. Installed at each wheel, it uses a combination of software and electro-mechanical actuators that monitor, process and adjust according to whatever the road presents.

So as bumps and potholes impact vehicle movement, digital controllers at each wheel sense an impact and send the data to each Activalve device where the software instructs an electric motor to pump hydraulic fluid that moves the wheel up or down to accommodate whatever the road presents. These devices mount on all standard-sized shock absorbers.

They can also collect all of this data and send it to a cloud-based network where it can be analyzed by vehicle makers and shared with municipalities in prioritizing road repair.

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