Apple was granted a Project Titan patent covering a multistage active suspension actuator on Tuesday.



Is the glass half empty or half full? There were media outlets, like Bloomberg, that made a big deal about losing Apple executive Doug Field to Ford. The executive was working on Apple’s special electric car project known as Project Titan. Still, Apple scored a major victory in February when it was discovered they had caught Porsche’s Dr Manfred Harrer with a long history of chassis development. Then, in June, it was made public that Apple had hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive in the electric car division of BMW AG. to help direct one’s own vehicle efforts.

Also in September, Apple hired Dr Anton Uselmann for Project Titan with over a decade of experience with Mercedes and Porsche in the development of steering systems. With these high-end hires, Project Titan has a much deeper bench than a single engineer back at Ford. For me, Apple’s Project Titan is not in turmoil, but rather in good hands.

That said, Apple got another patent this week for a “multistage active suspension actuator”.

In Apple’s patent history, they note that conventional vehicle suspension systems are passive systems with a spring and damper that transfer and dampen forces between the suspended mass (e.g., the body vehicle) and unsprung mass (e.g. tires, wheels, brakes, etc.). Vehicle handling characteristics and passenger comfort can be enhanced with an active suspension system that selectively controls the transfer of force to the vehicle body.

The patent issued by Apple covers active suspension systems and suspension actuators. In one implementation, a suspension actuator includes an upper support, a lower support, a first actuator, and a second actuator.

The upper frame can be connected to a suspended mass of a vehicle. The lower mount can be connected to an unsprung mass of the vehicle.

The first actuator forms a first load path between the upper support and the lower support. The first actuator is part of an electromagnetic linear actuator or a ball screw actuator.

The second actuator forms a second load path in parallel with the first load path between the upper support and the lower support. The second actuator is one of a mechanical linear actuator, air spring actuator, or hydraulic actuator.

A suspension system for a vehicle includes four suspension actuators and a fluid circuit. Each suspension actuator is configured to selectively apply a force between a suspended mass of a vehicle and one of four unsprung masses of the vehicle. Each suspension actuator includes a main actuator and a hydraulic actuator mechanism.

The main actuators are intended to selectively apply a force between the suspended mass and one of the unsprung masses.

Hydraulic actuator mechanism is intended to selectively apply a force between the suspended mass and one of the unsprung masses in parallel with the main actuator.

The fluid circuit includes a pump in fluid communication with the hydraulic actuator mechanism of two of the suspension actuators to control their movement.

Apple notes that in FIG. 1 below, a vehicle (# 100) usually includes a vehicle body (# 110), a control system (# 120), an energy storage system (# 130), a drive system (# 140), a piloting system (# 150), and a suspension system (# 160). All of these systems are connected to the vehicle body (# 110) to, respectively, propel, steer and support the vehicle 100 on a road surface.

Apple’s patent FIG. 2 below illustrates the # 160 suspension system typically configured to maintain contact with the road surface and to control the movement of the vehicle body as the vehicle travels over road disturbances. The suspension system includes one or more suspension assemblies, eg, one at each corner of the vehicle (eg, front left, front right, rear right, and rear left) to support vehicle 100 on the road surface.

Apple’s patent FIG. 9 above is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a suspension actuator for use in the suspension assembly of FIG. 1. This is the FIG patent. Apple highlighted as a key figure in this invention.

As you can see, this is a very detailed patent filing that players in the electric car industry would understand better than us mere mortals. You can view the details of the issued patent 11,124,035 here.

Apple inventors

Jonathan Hall: Leader in electromechanical technology (SPG). Hall previously worked at Primus Power Corporation and Tesla as lead engineer, powertrain.

Troy Carter: Senior Mechanical Engineer

Paul Keas: Control Systems Engineer

10.52FX - Bar granted patent


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