Nexteer unveils comprehensive suite of steering technology for autonomous & mixed mode driving

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DETROIT, Mich. – Nexteer Automotive, a global leader in intuitive motion control, today announces the expansion of its advanced steering technology suite at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Nexteer’s suite serves as the technology base from which the company offers a unique combination of steering innovations addressing the evolving role of technology in a semi- and fully automated world.

“While these industry-leading innovations can each stand on their own merit, the real game-changer is the combination of technologies in a single suite of technologies,” said Jeff Zuraski, Executive Director of Research & Development.

This advanced technology suite features several key components:

  • Steering on Demand™ System
  • Quiet Wheel™ Steering
  • Stowable Steering Column
  • Steer-by-Wire
  • High Availability Electric Power Steering
  • Cyber Security

Steering on Demand™ System

With the press of a button or simply by grabbing the steering wheel, Steering on Demand™ System enables the safe, intuitive transitions of steering control between manual driving and automated driving in vehicles capable of SAE Level 3 and beyond automated driving.

Quiet Wheel™ Steering

Within Nexteer’s technology suite, Quiet Wheel™ Steering enables the steering wheel to remain still during automated driving mode, even while the vehicle is in the process of turning. Quiet Wheel™ Steering eliminates potential distractions and hazards of a fast-rotating steering wheel in front of the driver during hands-off driving, enhancing safety and sense of peace in the cabin.

Stowable Steering Column

Vehicles equipped with Quiet Wheel™ Steering may also be fitted with a “stowable” column that retracts when automated driving is engaged, increasing available space for driver comfort and other activities. This stowable steering column technology gives the driver more control and options with safe, natural transitions between manual and automated driving modes.

Steer-by-Wire: Center Link in Nexteer’s Technology Suite

In Steer-by-Wire, the mechanical connection between the road wheels and the steering wheel is replaced with electronics and actuators on the steering column and rack. This system, supporting both manual and automated driving, opens new possibilities for advanced safety features, vehicle lightweighting and packaging flexibility. Nexteer’s SbW emulates the “feel of the road” and offers a wide performance range – from sporty to luxury.  In addition, the system’s variable steering ratio enhances manueverabiltiy, as well as factors into Nexteer’s SbW steering feel achievement.

“When we started, Nexteer had one simple question: What will people want to experience in steering control during varying stages of semi- and fully autonomous driving? This question led to others as we tried to imagine all the nuances of this unchartered territory,” said Zuraski. “As we painted a clearer picture of the evolving role of steering in a semi- and fully automated world, we started creating solutions that led to our comprehensive suite of technologies.”

High Availability Electric Power Steering (EPS):  Safety-Net is Always On

Nexteer’s high availability EPS is designed for resilient operational availability, using top-rated components that are intelligently optimized through redundancies in torque and position sensors, electronic control units, winding motors as well as dual sets of vehicle power and communication connectors.  In addition, Nexteer’s simultaneous, multi-path processing further enhances the safety net as the industry moves toward varying levels of automation.

Cyber-Secure Advanced Steering  

While Nexteer’s customers incorporate cyber security at the vehicle level, the company takes safety to the next level by integrating multi-layer cyber security at a steering system level for maximum protection.  These cyber security technologies consist of specifically designed hardware modules on the semi-conductor level, as well as a multi-layered cryptographic software structure, that identifies and authorizes information and command flow between the steering system and other in-vehicle or external controllers. As vehicles adopt advanced electronics to enable automated driving, internet connectivity and V2X communication, cyber-secure steering technologies becomes even more critical.

Tech Suite Tie-Ins with Strategic Joint Venture, Partnership

While Nexteer’s steering technology suite addresses current and future needs in lateral control, its R&D joint venture with Continental Automotive – CNXMotion – allows for expanded application by integrating steering with braking solutions.  CNXMotion integrates longitudinal and lateral control technologies while accelerating R&D for both parent companies.  Futhermore, Nexteer and WABCO announced a partnership to develop and supply active steering systems for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles using Nexteer’s Magnetic Torque Overlay (MTO), a breakthrough ADAS-enabling product.  Consequently, Nexteer’s comprehensive technology suite also offers comprehensive applications, including small cars up to Class 8 trucks. 

ABOUT NEXTEER

Nexteer Automotive – A Leader in Intuitive Motion Control – is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business delivering electric and hydraulic power steering systems, steering columns, driveline systems as well as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving technologies for original equipment manufacturers. The company’s global workforce of over 13,000 serves more than 50 customers in every major region of the world. The company has 24 manufacturing plants, three technical centers and 14 customer service centers strategically located in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Nexteer Automotive’s customers include BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, PSA Group, Toyota and VW, as well as automakers in India and China. www.nexteer.com

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Have you ever wondered what is ‘Drive-by-wire’ or ‘x-by-wire’?

We come across the terms like drive-by-wire, steer-by-wire, throttle-by-wire, 0r x-by-wire, but how many of you have ever wondered what is this x-by-wire technology? Today, let’s see what it actually is.

Drive by wire, Steer-by-wire, or x-by-wire technology in the automotive industry is the use of electrical or electro-mechanical systems for performing vehicle functions traditionally achieved by mechanical linkages. This technology replaces the traditional mechanical control systems with electronic control systems using electro-mechanical actuators and human-machine interfaces such as pedal and steering feel emulators. Components such as the [steering column], intermediate shafts, pumps, hoses, belts, coolers and vacuum servos(components used in cars to assist drivers by decreasing the braking force required) and master cylinders are eliminated from the vehicle. This is similar to the fly-by-wire systems used widely in the aviation industry.

What are the advantages and disadvantages associated with this technology?

Advantages: 

  • Reduces the vehicle’s weight as electromechanical components are much lighter compared to mechanical linkages.

steer-by-wire

  • Vehicle design freedom is increased as the electromechanical components occupy less place compared to the mechanical counterparts. And also, the number of options to place x-by-wire components(though not all) inside the vehicle is more than that of mechanical  components. For example, in a traditional steering mechanism the steering column’s position is fixed and it can be cannot be changed where as in steer-by-wire system the control modules can be placed wherever the design permits. This adds to design freedom
  • Safety can be improved by providing computer controlled intervention of vehicle controls with systems such as electronic stability control (ESC), adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist Systems.
  • Improved ergonomics due to flexibility of location of controls.

Disadvantages:

  • Drive by wire systems can be hacked, and their control faulted or shut off, by either wired or wireless connections.
  • Increased complexity.

Uses in automobiles:

Throttle by wire: This system helps accomplish vehicle propulsion by means of an electronic throttle without any cables from the accelerator pedal to the throttle valve of the engine. In electric vehicles, this system controls the electric motors by sensing the accelerator pedal input and sending commands to the power inverter modules.

Brake by wire: A pure brake by wire system eliminates the need for hydraulics completely by using motors to actuate calipers and lock the wheels in comparison to the currently existing technology where the system is designed to provide braking effort by building hydraulic pressure in the brake lines.

Shift by wire: The direction of motion of the vehicle (Forward, Reverse) is set by commanding the actuators inside the transmission through electronic commands based on the current input from the driver (Park, Reverse, Neutral or Drive).

Steer by wire: This kind of system will provide steering control of a car with fewer mechanical components/linkages between the steering wheel and the wheels. The control of the wheels’ direction will be established through electric motor(s) which are actuated by electronic control units monitoring the steering wheel inputs from the driver. Such a system is illegal in most jurisdictions for passenger or commercial vehicles. The first production vehicle to implement this was the Infiniti Q50. This is not to be confused with Electric Power Steering. Electric Power Steering can be considered as a stage of evolution from mechanical steering to steer by wire systems.