Ford Motor Company is planning a new generation of steering technology for its vehicles. This new technology helps manoeuvrability at low speeds and in tight spaces. At higher speeds, it will help make the vehicle peppier and more agile.
Raj Nair, Ford group vice-president, global product development, said, "This new steering technology can make any vehicle easier to manoeuvre and more fun to drive." Ford’s adaptive steering changes the ratio between the driver’s actions at the steering wheel – the number of turns – and how much the front wheels turn. In traditional vehicles, this is a fixed steering ratio.
With adaptive steering, the ratio continually changes with 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 easier to turn. 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. Adaptive steering can help the driver feel more comfortable and can make any drive more enjoyable.
The system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel, and requires no change to a vehicle’s traditional steering system. The actuator – an electric motor and gearing system – can essentially add to or subtract from a driver’s steering inputs. The result is a better driving experience at all speeds, regardless of vehicle size or class.
Ford says its adaptive steering will be available on select vehicles beginning next year. The system was developed for production by the carmaker in collaboration with Takata, a leading supplier of automotive steering and safety systems, and a Ford Aligned Business Framework partner.