In the fast-changing automotive industry, the electrification trend is not occurring in a vacuum. As more vehicle models move to electric versions, they are also adopting new software, connectivity and assisted and automated features.
For example, revamping vehicle platforms for electric vehicles (EVs) could provide OEMs with an opportunity to reimagine the vehicle and introduce the latest technologies for advanced safety and performance. This would help OEMs appeal to consumers with cutting-edge, user-friendly technology and help differentiate them in the race to electrification leadership.
In addition, some advanced technologies are not only changing the way we drive, but how drivers use their vehicles. From infotainment systems to advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and even over-the-air software updates, the experience of driving and owning a vehicle has changed a great deal in recent years.
One unique technology combination that’s advancing safety and performance AND changing how drivers use their vehicles is Nexteer’s Steer-by-Wire (SbW) with Stowable Steering Column. This 2021 PACEpilot award-winning technology combination reinvents the “behind-the-wheel” experience and opens an untapped frontier of advanced safety and performance for autonomous and traditional driving. It’s also poised to transform the future of mobility by supporting OEM needs across industry megatrends like Electrification, Autonomy, Mobility-as-a-Service and Software / Connectivity.
SbW and Stowable Steering Columns: Game-Changing Technologies
SbW replaces the mechanical connection between the handwheel and roadwheels with algorithms, electronics and actuators. SbW opens the gateway to benefits that are not achievable with traditional steering solutions. SbW can enhance stability control, reduce braking distances and is a preferred enabler for Park Assist and Automatic Emergency Steering (AES). Advanced steering software also creates the possibility to tailor SbW’s steering feel and responsiveness (from luxury to sporty) and customize steering feel to an OEM’s brand. SbW’s variable steering ratio further enhances maneuverability in various driving scenarios (i.e., tight parking lots vs. highway driving), as well as factors into steering-feel achievement.
Stowable Steering Column utilizes custom-designed software and electronics that allow the steering wheel to be retracted into the dash and away from the driver when not in use. Stowable Column also provides innovative solutions for crash safety, with Automotive Safety Integrity Level D (ASIL-D) steering column positioning.
When paired together, SbW with Stowable Column opens a new world of cockpit design options and changes how drivers can use their vehicles – creating the opportunity for OEMs to re-invent and re-purpose the driver’s cabin space. When SbW is coupled with a Stowable Column during automated driving, additional space is created for the driver to engage in other activities. This technology can also be used for traditional driving vehicles. When the vehicle is in park, Stowable Column can extend the usable space in the vehicle cabin, creating a more spacious office-on-wheels.
Providing a Fully Immersive Aesthetic for What Drivers See, Feel & Hear Behind-the-Wheel
SbW provides the “right” feedback to the driver for all driving situations and road conditions through sophisticated controls, algorithms, software and software tuning (from luxury to sporty feel range; highway driving to tight parking lots; gravel surfaces to icy surfaces, etc.).
Achieving this high level of steering feel and road feedback is impressive when you consider that this “feel” is actually emulated. In contrast, today’s traditional steering systems are mechanically connected so steering feel and road feedback are communicated to the driver through the mechanical connection between the road wheels and the steering wheel.
Overall, the unique combination of these game-changing technologies addresses a fully immersive aesthetic considering what a driver sees, feels and hears behind-the-wheel – enabling new, advanced features for all forms of driving (Automated Driving Levels 0-5).
Robin Milavec is President, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Board Director for Nexteer Automotive.