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Infiniti debuts fully electric steering system

In principle, it's not much different than playing 'Gran Turismo' with a wheel and pedals.

By Clifford Atiyeh Feb 1, 2013 7:21AM
Electrically assisted power steering, which uses electric motors to assist the driver's motions instead of a hydraulic pump, is now mainstream. It saves fuel by running independent of the engine's power, thus allowing for auto start-stop systems that shut off the engine at stoplights.

It also allows drivers to choose between light and heavy steering efforts, as on certain Audi and Volvo models, as a matter of software control. But whether electric or hydraulic, there has always been a direct mechanical connection to the front wheels.

Until now. Nissan has developed the first production "steering-by-wire" system, a fully electronic steering system that uses a combination of sensors and motors, which will debut on the 2014 Infiniti Q50.

Car and Driver breaks all the technical specs down in full detail, but the gist is this: There's no mechanical linkage, the steering can act independently of the steering wheel -- a possible advance for stability-control systems -- and the steering ratio can be varied infinitely. As such, there is no feedback whatsoever from the road to the driver's palms, since the car's steering wheel is essentially a video-game controller that kids mount on coffee tables.

A fail-safe system with a mechanical link supposedly will trigger if the electronics black out. It'd be frightening if hybrids didn't already use electronic brake pedals. Electronic throttles are even more common, and despite the 2009 Toyota scare over "ghosts in the machine," they've proved to be safe and reliable.

Let's just hope Infiniti offers enough Force Feedback.

[Source: Car and Driver]
6Comments
Feb 1, 2013 7:36AM
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"As such, there is no feedback whatsoever from the road to the driver's palms, since the car's steering wheel is essentially a video-game controller that kids mount on coffee tables."

The final nail in the coffin for "driver" involvement!

Feb 1, 2013 8:44AM
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This sounds incredibly bad.  I can't say I would consider buying any car equiped this way. 

Oct 6, 2013 5:53AM
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 clash mechanical linkage, the steering can act independently of the steering wheel -- a possible advance for stability-control systems  is not a disaster -- it is an opportunity.

 

OH, It also allows drivers to choose over "ghosts in the car.

Feb 4, 2013 8:17AM
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