The dynamic performance of automotive vehicles is influenced by the suspension system design. Suspensions owing damping elements with a wide range of non-linear behaviour can provide higher mobility and better ride comfort performances. Pneumatic suspensions due to their inherent nonlinear behaviour can provide high mobility performance while suspensions with MR dampers can provide this nonlinearity through the controllable damping force produced by the control of the MR fluid. The pneumatic and MR suspension models are usually developed from experimental force-displacement and force-velocity characteristics.

The purpose of this paper is to measure and compare the dynamic characteristics of pneumatic, magnetorheological, and hydraulic shock absorbers. The study is carried out through measuring the characteristics of the different types of dampers at different frequencies and amplitudes using an Electro-Servo Hydraulic (ESH) testing machine. The shock absorber is subjected to sinusoidal excitation of frequency varying from 0 to 10 Hz, and amplitude varying from 0 to 10 mm. In the case of the MR damper, the tests are also done at different current levels of between 0 and 2 amp. The input displacement and acceleration to the shock absorber were measured using an LVDT (Linear Voltage Displacement Transducer) and an accelerometer, respectively while the input velocity was derived from the measured displacement and acceleration. This dual identification of the input velocity was done in order to ensure accurate representation of the velocity. The output force response of the shock absorber was measured by means of a force transducer. The force-displacement and force-velocity characteristics of each shock absorber were subsequently derived from the measured data. The results show the tunability of the MR damper characteristics in comparison to those of the pneumatic and hydraulic dampers.

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