Nissan Motor Co has announced that some of its vehicles will be getting new steering technology that does away with traditional mechanical and hydraulic systems. The new steering system will use steer-by-wire technology. The technology will change the direction of the wheels in relation to the steering wheel inside the car using electronics rather than mechanical means.
Some of the first Nissan Motor Co vehicles to get the technology will be in its high-end luxury Infiniti line. Nissan says that the technology will pave the way for future cars that can be steered using joysticks rather than a traditional wheel and cars that can be program to avoid crashes automatically. Steer-by-wire technology would forward data on position from the steering wheel of the car to the wheels using electronic means.
A computer-controlled unit with an actuator would control how much directional change was needed in the wheels to keep the car along the path the driver wants. Nissan says that the electronic steering system would have a failsafe clutch. That failsafe would link the wheels mechanically to the steering wheel inside the car in the event of an emergency such as the electrical system failure.
Automotive manufacturers have been increasingly going to electronic systems rather than mechanical and hydraulic systems. Many automakers already using throttle by wire systems rather than mechanical throttle linkages. There are also multiple vehicles on the road that use electronic power steering rather than traditional hydraulic power steering. Aircraft have been using control systems "by-wire" rather than mechanical or hydraulic systems for years. Nissan says that the electronic system is able to respond to signals more quickly than traditional systems because electronic signals travel faster. The first vehicles using the new steering system are expected in the next three to five years.
[via The Droid Guy]