Paving the way for autonomous future?

Nissan Motor Co. has announced plans to equip some of its high-end Infiniti brand luxury vehicles with new steer-by-wire technology. This new technology would replace the mechanical systems that link the steering wheel to the front wheels of the vehicle allowing the driver control over the car.

Nissan expects to introduce the technology within the next year year. Nissan notes that the steering wheel of the car and the tires are traditionally linked by mechanical means to give the driver direct feedback from the wheels on the road. Most automotive steering systems today are assisted by either electronic or hydraulic means.

Infiniti Emerg-E Concept

Ford for instance, uses electronic power steering on a number of its vehicles, including its popular Mustang. And a number of vehicles cruising the streets today already use throttle- by-wire. Nissan says that adding steer by wire technology would pave the way for future vehicles to be controlled by a joystick and to create vehicles that are able to automatically avoid accidents.

This technology could be a step on Nissan's path to autonomous vehicles that don't need a driver to operate. Nissan does say that the system would have a failsafe in the event of an electrical system failure. The wheels and the steering wheel can be mechanically linked to each other using an emergency clutch.

"In the future, if we are freed from that, we would be able to place the steering wheel wherever we like, such as in the back seat, or it would be possible to steer the car with a joystick," said Masaharu Satou, a Nissan engineer.

Source: Reuters

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