Bose—the company best known for its high-end speakers—spent three decades on a side project developing an active suspension system for luxury vehicles. The system was a passion project for the company’s late founder Amar Bose. Although it was kept quiet for many years, going by the code name Project Sound, in 2007 Mr. Bose said the high-tech suspension system was ready for commercialization. Jaguar, Mercedes, Honda, and Ferrari all expressed interest in the technology, but nothing ever happened. Now, Bose’s new CEO Bob Maresca revealed the reason the project stalled, in an interview with CNET.
Maresca was first hired by Bose in the 1980s to work as an engineer on the secret suspension project. Now, 30 years and a few big promotions later, Maresca explained why Project Sound never quite came to fruition. The project was a technical success but a commercial failure because the unique suspension system was too heavy and expensive for automakers to incorporate into vehicles. Still, as the video above demonstrates, the system is exquisite.
The active suspension system borrows speaker technology to adapt suspension to road conditions so that drivers and passengers don’t feel any bumps in the road. It uses electromagnetic motors powered by electric power amplifiers and switches, which work together to make the wheels bounce up and down over obstacles, while the body of the car remains still.
This system uses proprietary software, linear electromagnetic motors, and power amplifers to control each wheel.
Unfortunately, special metal and a powerful computer processor make the system heavy and expensive. For now, the technology that took many years and dollars to develop is being used in Bose Ride, a special seat for commercial trucks, designed to reduce drivers’ fatigue and back pain.