Ford’s active suspension patent hints at some weird applications, but a Bronco seems far-fetched

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A new Ford patent for suspension technology lists a wide range of potential applications—and hints at exciting possibilities not limited to the upcoming Bronco.

An article posted by Motor Trend suggests that the suspension system detailed by the patent is likely destined for the long-awaited Bronco, but that doesn’t seem particularly likely from where I’m sitting. The Bronco is not a clean-sheet vehicle, and given that it’s based in part on the Ranger, an advanced new suspension doesn’t strike me as the right fit. The kind of off-road driving that the Bronco is designed for is likely best-served by a traditional suspension with springs and shocks. Ford’s patent filing notes an adjustable suspension that can “achieve a maximum vehicle ride height and/or adjusting a pitch and/or roll angle of the suspension to improve an operator’s field of view.” Clearly that could be useful off-road, but we doubt that the Bronco is going to break much new ground with its suspension.

Ford Bronco Teaser

There are also mentions of rock-crawling and a “Daredevil” mode that can allow for tilting a vehicle for three-wheeled driving and disengaging a sway bar for better off-road articulation, yet most of the other elements of the filing don’t appear to fit the Bronco at all.

Instead, the patent seems more like a catch-all for any future suspension that takes the vehicle’s surroundings, terrain, and even the driver’s “behavior and/or emotional state” into account to change the ride height, steering responsiveness, and ride quality.

The vast selection of suspension modes includes: “City Mobility Mode,” that dampens aggressive inputs based on the vehicle’s surroundings; “Novice Driver Suspension Mode,” that prioritizes comfort while helping smooth out aggressive inputs; and “Expert Driver Suspension Mode” can mimic the setup of a race car, “such that the vehicle is purposefully caused to drift.” On the other end of the spectrum, “Cradle Suspension Mode” can “implement a target sooth (sic) function, selected by a vehicle driver, which correlates to a detected cradle suspension frequency.” Finally—a suspension for a dedicated off-roader that can rock your child to sleep!

The long list of suspension settings also notes the vehicle can lower the ride height, based on speed, for improved fuel economy. It can also change the ground clearance based on terrain, or weather.

You can find all of the patent filing here. Until we get word from Ford on which of these suspension modes make their way into production, we’re still waiting for the Bronco’s official unveiling, which has been reportedly delayed until 2021. If it looks as good as the spy photos and leaked images suggest, it won’t need any fancy suspension settings to be a huge hit.

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