The 2018 Audi A8 features an active suspension that will lift its wheels over road imperfections, and dynamically resist sway, dive and squat.
The A8’s magic trick is that its sensors can detect imminent side impacts and quickly lift the side of the car that will be hit. This raises the floor to meet the impact instead of the less robust side of the car.
Three Principles at work
Principle 15 – Dynamics, “What if it could adapt to circumstance?” While the car is normally sitting in a neutral stance, it presents a high side to an oncoming car.
Principle 11 – Cushion in Advance, “Can something be done in advance to protect it?” Here the designers have anticipated a common mode of collision and taken steps to mitigate the danger.
Finally, Principle 6 – Universality, “Can it accomplish multiple objectives?” The car was conceived with all the components it required to accomplish this flinch action in support of providing a smooth ride and confident handling. Once than the development cost is undertaken (software, testing), this feature has a near zero marginal cost (i.e. once developed it can be applied to all future cars with the same kind of quick reacting active suspension without additional cost).
Universality and Dynamics are a powerful team
Universality is a particularly rewarding principle to apply, particularly in a system that already has Dynamics built in, because those dynamic adjustments can be tweaked for multiple purposes.