The road isn't as smooth as your ride suggests. Your car's suspension is constantly moving, and that motion creates kinetic energy that doesn't really contribute to anything. Audi's hoping to change that with a new type of suspension that captures this energy and turns it into electricity.
Audi's electromechanical rotary dampers (dubbed eROT) replace a traditional suspension system. As the wheels move up and down over the road, that motion is fed into rotary dampers, which transfer the force to an electric motor that converts it to electricity. It's meant to be connected to a 48-volt electrical system, which Audi is developing for use in its next-generation vehicles.
Not only does this confer the benefit of producing electricity, it opens the suspension system up to greater configurability. The dampers work in such a way that compression and rebound can be tuned separately, so you're not smashing your head against the headliner over potholes or feeling like you're piloting a pillow without any road feel. The system is also smaller than traditional suspension setups, allowing for tighter packaging and increased trunk space.
The electricity generated in the dampers isn't going to power an electric vehicle by itself, but it's producing not insignificant wattage. Audi says the system recovered an average of 100-150 watts per trip, although the length of that trip was not mentioned.
Just when you think we're reaching the limit of vehicle tech, something like this comes along and changes up the fundamentals of an automobile. Telescoping dampers aren't the end-all, be-all of suspension technology, and there's plenty of untapped energy remaining for us to harness.