10 YEARS AGO — 2002
Tilt-wheel suspension technology: The F400 research vehicle from Mercedes- Benz features an active system that tilts the wheels, varying the camber angle on outer wheels from 0 to 20°, depending on road conditions. Used with asymmetric-tread concept tires, it is said to give 30% more lateral stability than conventional systems with fixed cambers and standard tires. Better lateral stability improves the vehicle’s grip on the road and gives it greater cornering stability. When the vehicle takes a corner, the outer wheels tilt in, leaving only the inner area of the tires in contact with the road. The inner tread area is slightly rounded off, similar to motorcycle tires. When driving straight, the tires’ outer portion contacts the road for good high-speed and low-noise performance. The active camber control works with an active-suspension system. This suspension adjusts springing and damping with changing road conditions for a smooth ride, with nearly no body roll even under extreme cornering.
30 YEARS AGO — 1982
Sophisticated gear lab opened: The tiny feeler gage on the high-precision measuring instrument shown can detect minute variations on the surface of gear teeth. The device is one of several new machines in a new truck-axle gear laboratory opened by Eaton Corp. The facility is being used exclusively to design and develop highprecision gearing, which will mean quieter and longer-lasting axles for medium and heavy-duty trucks, according to the company.
50 YEARS AGO — 1962
Rough-water power boats, called Zodiacs, can be deflated and stored in a valise. Available in three overall lengths (from 10½ to 15 ft), the inflatable is said to be exceptionally seaworthy, having a large buoyancy reserve even when completely flooded. Speed is 20 knots with an 180-hp outboard. Standard equipment (also tucked away in the valise) includes floorboards, locking bar, apron supports, thwart, bellow, leak stoppers, and repair kit. Zodiacs are built by R.F.D. Co. Ltd., Godalming, Surrey, England.