We’ve seen electric power assisted steering systems proliferate the automotive industry of late and now word is coming from Nissan Motor Co. that they’ve developed the world’s first “steer-by-wire” system and they may begin integrating the technology into Infiniti vehicles within a year.
Conventional steering has used mechanical links to transmit driver’s intentions to the front tires while the Nissan system will recognize driver’s input from sensors recognizing steering wheel position and sending signals to mulitple ECUs to transmit data to controllers on the steering gear which will turn the front tires in accordance with the driver’s wishes.
And in the event of a catastrophic (read: electrical) failure, a backup mechanical “clutch” will engage in the steering linkage reverting the vehicle back to traditional mechanical steering.
Nissan Motor Co. has already coined “Driving as Intended” and “Driving with Peace of Mind” as taglines for the new technology.
The automaker claims greater driving comfort behind the wheel with the mechanical disconnect in the new steering system as imperfections in the road surface will not be transmitted back to the driver via the steering column as in conventional hydraulic systems.
Along with the new steer-by-wire system, Nissan has also developed a camera-based straight-line stability system that will improve vehicle stability and enhance on-center driving capability.
This system analyzes the road ahead via a camera mounted above the rearview mirror and detects any changes in vehicle direction due to road surface or crosswinds and minimizes these effects by electronically controlling the opposing force to the tire angle. The end result is less fatigue on the driver who in the past has had to contend with these conditions manually by “strong-arming” them.
Nissan Motor Co. says to expect the new technologies on select Infiniti models within one year.