This paper describes the development, modeling, and testing of a prototype, continuously variable semi-active damper for heavy vehicles. A simple proportional valve is used to generate the variable damping coefficient and the detrimental effects of the oil flow forces acting on the valve spool are studied. The force tracking performance of the damper is then examined under simple input conditions. The compliance of the hydraulic fluid is found to have a strong influence on the response of the damper. The performance of the prototype damper is investigated under realistic operating conditions using a Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) test rig, with a single wheel station vehicle model. The prototype damper displays a time lag of approximately 20 ms between the demanded and achieved damping force. The semi-active suspension is found to be most effective in reducing the vehicle body motion relative to the performance of an optimum passive suspension. [S0022-0434(00)00903-5]

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