When a car corners, inertia pushes the car and its occupants opposite the direction of the turn. This can create an uncomfortable feeling, depending on the nature of the turn, the speed, and the vehicle’s dynamics. The principle of leaning into the curve (as motorcycle do) helps negate this force, and we are attempting to bring this leaning motion into our car design. When a motorcycle goes around a curve and the driver leans, the horizontal forces felt are much less because some of the forces are transferred into vertical forces. Because your body is adjusted to one “g” of acceleration vertically (i.e. gravity), the increase in the vertical acceleration is barely felt. Our vehicle design is to combine aspects of various leaning vehicles in an innovative manner, to create a passively leaning suspension.
The goal of our project is to create a functioning double suspension system concept that sports cars could use. We would do so in a cost effective and efficient way. The objective is to integrate our suspension system into a vehicle that we also design. Along with the suspension system we would have to design the frame, primary and secondary suspension systems, and steering system in the car. The size of the car will be approximately the size of a small car. Our target cost is $1200, and we are looking into saving money wherever possible through donations or easily accessible materials. Our dry weight goal of the final vehicle is approximately 500 pounds. Perhaps the biggest constraint to our project is time, as our project will require extensive design and fabrication time. We will purchase the springs, wheels, seat, and hubs--but most of the other parts will need to be designed and fabricated ourselves.
Due to the nature of our project as a non-standard vehicle prototype, our customer base is very narrow. In order to apply the concept of passive leaning to our car, we need to keep the body very low to the ground, and as narrow as possible. These two requirements, along with practicality and budget, limit our design to a one passenger vehicle.
We anticipate our design remaining in the prototype stage for at least several more iterations beyond our project, and not hitting any markets for at least 3-5 years. We hope our project serves as the launchpad of this idea into the mainstream science community. We hope our design be improved upon many times, eventually enough so that it is safe to operate at high speeds. Although it is quite a stretch of the imagination at this point, our work has the potential to make race cars much more comfortable.