posted 3 years ago

New Car Steering Concept Could Save Countless Lives

Problems With Today's Car Steering Systems

A revolutionary new steering concept for cars could save countless lives. But how? As of now, a motorist might have to move his/her steering wheel up to two-and-a-half revolutions from lock to lock. This, of course, takes a considerable amount of time – time that is critical if the car has to move sharply to avoid a collision. Furthermore, whereas motorists are taught to shuffle the wheel through their hands most instinctively favour the arm over arm technique in tricky situations. This can be fiddly and it is easy to lose track of where the front wheels are pointing. Also, a driver that applies to much lock relative to the vehicle's speed might face several problems. The car, for example, could under-steer which is the phenomenon whereby it runs wide on a corner as the front tyres loose grip. Even more hazardous, it might over-steer as the rear tyres lose traction then spin out of control. Both these problems can be resolved by a top-notch driver but the techniques are beyond the capabilities of the average motorist. Plus, of course, in extreme cases fast steering relative to speed can cause a vehicle to roll over onto its roof.

Revolutionary New Car Steering Concept Explained

The new steering concept – if it is successfully trialled and installed on production vehicles – should address many or all of these concerns. How? Because it would be a yoke-like device that only requires a quarter turn in either direction from the upright position. This would enable the motorist to keep his/her hands in the same spot on the steering wheel which would sidestep the arm over arm issue. It should also help the vehicle turn quicker if it faces an unexpected, sudden, hazard. Furthermore, a computer would record how far the steering device is turned, the speed it is turned, and the vehicle's velocity. It would then determine how far the front wheels should move to perform the manoeuvre without jeopardising the vehicle's stability. It should therefore prevent the motorist turning to fast and rolling the car, etc. This concept will now be tested to establish whether it is safe, reliable, effective and intuitive. If successful, it could be fitted to forthcoming production vehicles relatively easily. However, it might take some time before motorists embrace such a radical change to a fundamental system. 


More unnecessary computers, how much would that put on the cost of the car? Our age group drove cars before disk breaks and long before roads were gritted in winter, and because of it we are very capable drivers, listening and feeling the movement of the car which tells us more than waiting for the electronics to activate and save the day. Unfortunately modern drivers now have to put their trust in the car, the more mod cons the better the car, fortunately modern cars are very capable and if a car is over or under steering the driver is generally doing something wrong, so it's the drivers who need further tuition, not the car making more idiot proof. A great guide is Sir Jacky Stewart’s course where trainees had to drive in difficult and slippery conditions while keeping a ball in a bowl on the car bonnet which taught smooth driving with small gentle inputs, a good guide if you have never regularly driven icy un-grited roads.

For the majority of drivers - this is a must-have improvement as most drivers become incompetent shortly after passing their test (including motorcyclists). This is just an evolution of 'Smart Power Steering' which has existed for a long time. Whereby the range of turning is shortened but the initial range is softer so it's not a pain to keep straight.

How about a compulsory period on two wheels to acquire an appreciation of changing road surfaces and the fact that you are not glued to them?

I agree with Les Ralph. I say get rid of Power assisted brakes, or even go back to cable operated shoes, and ABS, that can be a real problem on sheet ice. Power assisted steering and traction control really distract from the true driving experience as do rain sensing wipers and auto dimming mirrors, but the real bane of my driving experience is not having a handle to wind when I want to operate the passenger window. I just don't feel connected to the glass and the environment beyond

I've got a radical idea. How about we have espcially-equipped learner-driver vehicles that have mandatory non-power assisted rack and pinion steering. Of course, this would be an expensive retro-fit on a modern car, so let's use a fleet of nicely restored Morris Minors. New drivers would need to pass a preliminary test in the Minor, before graduating to stage two of the learning process on a 'modern' car. Stage two would include an optional governemnt subsdidised track day for all learners under 25 years old in a 'reasonably proced' fast car, so they can get their adrenaline going where it's safe - off the public highways. I can already hear folks saying that would be costly retro-fitting air-bags to a Morris Minor. Forget air bags and welcome to the real world of motoring!

Aircraft have had fly by wire systems for years and a lot of fast jets could not fly without it. Drivers would have to have a lot of faith in the technology before accepting it. With only a quarter turn in either direction it may be a bit of a pig to keep in a straight line!!!

how many more gadgets before the driver becomes redundant?.. and where is the driver skill involved? some computer is doing all the work.. I personally prefer to DRIVE the car MYSELF.. give me good old mechanical every time.. I want to feel what's going on and act accordingly, there's no substitute for experience and common sense when driving, if you cant feel the car how can you react when something is not quite right.. mechanical versus computer control? there are ways around mechanical problems so you can get home safely.. computer goes wrong you're stuck, steering especially, I want to know how far my wheels are going to turn when I move that thing at the top of the steering column..