Performance limitations and constraints for active and passive suspensions: a mechanical multi-port approach

M.C. Smith and G.W. Walker


This paper develops a framework using mechanical multi-port networks to study the performance capabilities and constraints in vehicle suspensions. We seek to understand the set of dynamic responses which are achievable for both passive and active systems. To this end, we view a suspension system as a mechanical multi-port network and draw on concepts from electrical circuits such as passivity and reciprocity. We identify necessary conditions on the external behaviour of a quarter-car model for the suspension to be capable of passive realisation, and thereby establish that several behaviours or force laws cannot be implemented without an internal power source. We study the number of available degrees of freedom (i.e. independently specifiable impedances) in the quarter-, half- and full-car cases.