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Transportation Input Devices

Ford's Bringing Adaptive Steering To the Masses 128

cartechboy writes: "Most automakers have made the jump from hydraulic power steering to electronic power steering to help conserve fuel. By using an electric motor instead of a hydraulic system, less energy is drawn from the engine. Many luxury automakers have also introduced adaptive steering with the electronic power steering systems, but now Ford is looking to bring this feature to the masses. Adaptive steering builds on the existing speed-sensitive function of the electronic power steering system by altering the steering ratio and effort based on driver inputs and settings. The system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel. It's an electric motor and gearing system that can essentially add or subtract from the driver's steering inputs. This will make the vehicle easier to maneuver at low speeds, and make a vehicle feel more stable at high speeds. The system (video) will be offered on certain Ford vehicles within the next 12 months."
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Ford's Bringing Adaptive Steering To the Masses

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  • Ghost in the machine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:59PM (#47130325) Homepage

    Does that mean that if one of those actuators or logic board malfunctions, that it could steer a car into traffic? All it takes is for a few milliseconds and some force to jerk the wheel out of someone's hands. Or so I would imagine.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @02:06PM (#47130395)

    This is a stupid idea. For one thing, a big, red, octagonal stop sign is not a good way to steer a car.

    But in case you're talking about joysticks, those are terrible ways to control cars, because they don't have the range of motion that a steering wheel does. If they made any sense at all, you'd see Formula 1 cars with them. You don't. F1 cars all use steering wheels, despite being loaded with an incredible amount of technology.

  • I have a ford (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @02:48PM (#47130801)

    I have a ford with adaptive steering... You can barely tell its there. The basic goal is to give you lots of help while the car is stationary or moving slow... but make it harder to jerk the wheel when doing 80. Back in the 80s they way over did power steering so you had basically no road feel at all and if someone even bumped the wheel while you were on the freeway it could send you into a spin or cause you to roll. So they cut back on the amount of "help" power steering provided.

    But my truck was recalled yesterday because faults in the system could cause power steering to fail and lead to an accident. They've had 7 confirmed accidents due to this out of some 800,000 vehicles sold.

    Ironic this story pops up a day after a recall for the very feature being advertised. lol

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @03:04PM (#47130955) Homepage

    Not even proper joysticks, but shitty mini-analogs.

    All you need to do to discover how bad an idea joystick controls on a car would be is to try to use a scissor lift. They have a lot of torque (at low top speed), and you basically have to wedge your arm into the control harness and control the stick with a stiff wrist. Otherwise, you push the stick forward, the lift accelerates, inertia jerks your arm back, and you pull back on the stick. Rinse, repeat...

    Or try driving any piece of heavy equipment over any kind of rough ground. I wondered why the front-end loader driver kept revving the engine. When I drove it myself, I quickly found out that rough ground + no suspension made the operator's foot bounce on the gas pedal and create a positive feedback cycle. More bump = more bouncing off the gas pedal = even more bumping around.

    Also Saab tried a joystick control in one of their prototypes []. Top Gear tried it out in one episode, it didn't work very well at all.

  • by ottawanker ( 597020 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @03:09PM (#47130997) Homepage

    Electric power steering works with sensors on the steering wheel that detect when you turn it, and how much. The car then does some calculations taking into account the force and speed with which you turn the wheel, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. It then activates a motor, which actually turns the wheels.

    I believe there is an electromagnetic clutch that disconnects the steering wheel from the actual rack and pinion, unless a fault is detected.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 30, 2014 @03:58PM (#47131527)

    My 1968 Firebird has Variable Ratio steering that was an original option. It works very nicely.

    The only problem: you get used to it and when you drive a car without it, it feels like the steering is too quick, twitchy, difficult to control, and you could oversteer at higher speeds.

    I think all of these automated safety things are great, but if someone who is used to them then has to drive an older or simpler car, they might cause an accident. I'm not saying we should not have these features; I'm just saying that people need to be aware of the differences.

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