Let’s Look At Tesla’s Patented Self-Adjusting Air Suspension


This patent has its ups and downs

A nifty patent has shown up on the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Issued to Tesla for a “Vehicle Air Suspension Control System,” the technology raises and lowers a vehicle’s active air suspension. Now, you may be thinking, “Yo, InsideEVs peeps, Tesla has had that for quite some time now.” If so, you are right.

The Model S, and Model X have had active air available from the start of production and it’s now standard equipment on them, unlike the Model 3, for which it is not yet, and may never be, available. So why file a new patent, then? Well, this is actually a continuation of patents filed in 2012 and 2013 called “Vehicle Air Suspension Control System.”

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The new patent, which builds on the foundations of the old, lays out all the many ways in which the air suspension may raise or lower — drivers could simply tap preset heights on the touch screen or by voice command; the system can also allow for preset locations, determined by GPS, to cause the vehicle to raise or lower; larger areas could also be set, referred to as geofencing, where the car may raise to more effectively deal with speed bumps, for example , and then lower again as it leaves that area. Of course, the patent still talks about lowering when the vehicle reaches a certain speed to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

While setting these raising and lowering parameters can sound intimidating, the prompts from the car actually make the whole process pretty painless. Basically, upon adjusting suspension height, it will ask whether you would like this action to be performed every time that location is reached, or not. What could be simpler? Well, for one, the car won’t ask you if you’d like the car lowered at the same spot in the future if you’ve previously told it to raise in the future on the approach to that spot. For example, if you confirm to the car that you’d like it to raise for a set of speed bumps in the future, when you tell it to lower after the bumps, it will assume you will want it to lower there in the future as well and won’t ask for confirmation.

If all this sounds a bit tedious, it should be much less so in the actual usage of the technology. Certainly it’s far less tedious than reading the twenty-three published pages of patent#US20180095543. (Just trust us on this one. Do not attempt. Repeat, do not attempt.) Just know, as you reach your steep driveway and your Model S or Model X automatically lifts its body to avoid scraping, that Tesla has a patent covering the action, and states in its abstract that it is: “A method of automatically adjusting the ride height of a vehicle each time the vehicle is in a particular location is provided, where the automatic ride height adjustment is based on location and ride height information previously gathered from a user.”

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Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Categories: Tesla


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12 Comments on "Let’s Look At Tesla’s Patented Self-Adjusting Air Suspension"

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(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Can I get a “Donk Mode”?

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Excuse me If I don’t see anything in the slightest that is Patent-able here. OBVIOUS ‘inventions’, that anyone anywhere could think of, should not be granted patents.

Don’t other Volvos already have this system anyway, essentially? GM also has a magnetic ride control on several cars.

They were granted patents for this 3 times, so the patent office thinks this qualifies, I guess.

But, it’s not just that the suspension can be raised and lowered, it’s that it can be done in a number of ways , and tied into the GPS system.

Volvo is one company that uses something similar, allowing the XC60 to raise 40. Not sure if it’s in other models. Tesla has opened its patents, so even if it’s an infringement, no legal action would be taken.

It seems the patent system has been broken as far as I can remember. Most of the times I read patent news these days it is just obvious slight modifications of old inventions.

“The United States Patent Office (USPTO) grants patents to inventions that meet three main criteria. The invention must be novel, nonobvious, and useful.”

Quote is from thoughtsonpaper.com and similar explanations exist in many other places.

Patent applications in the USA have, in general, gotten very far away from their original intent, which was to grant inventors the exclusive right to earn income from their invention for a limited time, while encouraging them to publish their methods thru the patent application process.

These days, patents are most often filed as a pre-emtive or prophylactic measure, an attempt to prevent a company’s competitors from putting something into production that might compete with the company’s products.

That situation has lead to such a ridiculous proliferation of patents — most of which show merely a slight variation on something already patented — that the U.S. Patent Office finally fought back, several years ago, by instituting a “non-obvious” requirement.

I don’t know how successful that has been in reducing the flood of trivial and frivolous patents in the U.S., but at least the USPTO tried!

(Please note this is in no way a commentary on Tesla’s patent. I have no idea whether it is, or is not, innovative enough to truly deserve a patent.)

I agree, the patent system is broken. Basically you can patent anything that isn’t already common place and has not been patented before. It doesn’t have to work, or make any sense, just be different. As long as Tesla’s patent has something slightly different than say Volvo’s then they get a patent for it. Could be just control by flat screen vs knob.

My major beef with the patent system is companies can buy up patents, and sit on them, so it doesn’t compete with their products. I think there should be a “use it or loose it” clause in patents.

Patents are granted, but the office has no time to figure out if it is legit or not, for the most part. Too many patents – waste of time.

The scrutiny comes when someone tries to block a patents or demand royalties. Then the parties involved can hire lawyers and figure out if the patent is valid or not.

Patent applications of at least some types are examined by subject matter experts, to see if they make sense — if the claims in the patent seem to be, at least in theory, something that might work in the real world. EEStor ran up against that; they kept getting various patent applications rejected because the examiner didn’t think it would work as claimed. However, I’m not sure that’s an average case; EEStor was making extraordinary claims, claims which were strongly disputed by those working in the field, so it’s possible those patent apps received much closer scrutiny than most. Now, you are correct to point out that patent examiners generally make little or no effort to determine if a new patent app infringes on an existing patent. It’s the responsibility of active patent holders to examine new patent claims during the period of examination, the months (is it 18 months?) between publication of a new patent app and when the patent is granted — assuming no delays. On the other hand, this recent requirement by the USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trade Office) that patent apps must be “non-obvious” would seem to put more of an onus on patent examiners, to… Read more »

“USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trade Office) that patent apps must be “non-obvious”

Didn’t know that, long overdue.

All EVs, hybrids and ICE’d vehicles should lower themselves over 40 mph or at least have that option. It’s a fantastic option to increase efficiency but expensive for manufacturers. I’d expect the adjustable suspension on Models 3 and Y once scale makes it possible. It’s another reason to opt for an S or X instead of the lessor models. Tesla deserves big kudos in incorporating adjustable height into their cars. It wasn’t easy. Do you see Mercedes, Audi or BMW doing it? People whine about an Audi, for instance, having a fancier interior than a Tesla in many car review comparisons. I would rather have a speed lowering suspension any day. Trial by fire. The Model S that struck road debris was in my neck of the woods in Washington State. Tesla endured all the bad press and criticism, and learned by it. Soon, all Model S were equipped with manual operation/override as standard and all were equipped with a bash bar and titanium reinforcements underneath. Lessons all carmakers can profit from. Why don’t others follow Teslas lead? A lower car body can offset wider, higher performance tires. So you get your cake and can eat it too, as the… Read more »