Ford has come up with something called Adaptive Steering for its cars. This steering system basically has an actuator which can change the steering ratio (the ratio of the turn of the steering wheel to that of the wheels) depending on the position of the steering and the input.Generally, a lower steering ratio makes the steering more responsive but increases the effort required and may cause the car to become hyperactive at higher speeds. On the other hand, a higher steering ratio reduces effort required to turn the wheel but makes it less responsive.
This new technology will make parking a much simpler job as it improves the agility of the car. Furthermore, Ford says that at high speeds, the system provides a smoother and more precise steering response.
A few years back, Ford had switched from hydraulic to electrically assisted steering wheel. While Ford executed it better than most manufacturers, petrol-heads have had mixed reactions. With more electronics getting between the steering and the wheels, petrol-heads who considered the removal of hydraulic steering an act of sacrilege, would now be further aggravated.
The good part is that this system can be placed inside a normal steering wheel and requires no design changes. This technology would be available from next year in Europe. No official plans for India have been announced yet.
Nissan had launched a Direct Adaptive Steering for its Infiniti Q50 a few months ago. This system basically comprises a motor that mimics the steering and reduces the response lag by removing all mechanical links between the wheels and the steering. However, this system does not boast the variable ratios that Ford‚Äôs Adaptive Steering is expected to provide.
Ford Advanced Steering technology press release
|COLOGNE, Germany, 30 May, 2014 ‚Äď Ford Motor Company is bringing to market a new generation of steering technology that will help make vehicles easier to manoeuvre at low speeds and in tight spaces. At higher speeds, the new technology will help make the vehicle more agile and fun to drive.
‚ÄúFirst and foremost, all Ford Motor Company products have to offer a great driving experience,‚ÄĚ said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. ‚ÄúThis new steering technology can make any vehicle easier to manoeuvre and more fun to drive.‚ÄĚ
Adaptive steering changes the ratio between the driver‚Äôs actions at the steering wheel ‚Äď the number of turns ‚Äď and how much the front wheels turn. In traditional vehicles, this is a fixed steering ratio. With Ford‚Äôs new Adaptive Steering, the steering ratio continually changes with vehicle speed, optimising the steering response in all conditions.
At lower speeds, such as when pulling into a parking space or manoeuvring in tight quarters, the new system makes the vehicle more agile and easier to turn, as it dials more steering into the road wheel. Each low-speed manoeuvre requires less turning of the steering wheel.
At highway speeds, the system further optimises steering response, enabling the vehicle to react more smoothly and precisely to driver input to make the journey more enjoyable.
Ford‚Äôs system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel, and requires no change to a vehicle‚Äôs traditional steering system. The actuator ‚Äď an electric motor and gearing system ‚Äď can essentially add to or subtract from a driver‚Äôs steering inputs. The result is a better driving experience at all speeds, regardless of vehicle size or class.
Adaptive Steering will be available on select vehicles beginning next year. The system was developed for production by Ford in collaboration with Takata, a leading supplier of automotive steering and safety systems