Nissan to install electronic ‘steer-by-wire’ in cars

Posted on October 17, 2012 12:03 pm

I saw this coming but not from Nissan Motor. My best bet was from a German carmaker and second bet was from an American car maker. I was dead wrong. The Japanese carmaker plans to equip some of its luxury cars with a system to control steering electronically, rather than mechanically. Three years ago, I purchased a Ferrari California and one of the reasons for buying it was that by then, it was one of the few cars that had electronic steering.This move could translate into sale for the Nissan brand because most non-traditional drivers would die to own such a car.Even hardcore fans of manual cars like me may be tempted to own such a car. Nissan plans will be the first time steer-by-wire technology will be used in fully produced vehicles. Nissan technology will be introduced in some models of the Infiniti brand before end of next year.The move could pave the way for cars that could be programmed to avoid crashes automatically.As a staunch traditional driver, the steering wheel of a car and the tires that are linked mechanically, gives me as the driver direct feedback about steering from the tires on the road. However,the Nissan technology will mean that inputs that I will make as a driver through the steering wheel will be transmitted to a computerized engine control unit, which instructs an actuator how to move the tires.That is music to my ears.

Nissan technology also means cars will also have a backup clutch that will link the steering wheel and tires mechanically in the event of any problems. Drivers would also be able to place the steering wheel wherever they like, such as in the back seat.Nissan may have demonstrated how their technology works online but I have seen most of the stuff they have with other automakers who have already introduced the technology in concept cars, like my favorite car Audi’s A2 which was unveiled last year. However, Nissan is the first to apply it for mass-produced cars.Under the Nissan system, the driver’s intentions are transmitted more quickly to the wheels because of the quick speed of electronic signals. Drivers can also manage cars more easily as the system cuts out what it deems as unnecessary feedback from the tires to the driver. In the video which is available on the company official YouTube account, Nissan also demonstrated a system that automatically steers a car away from an object if it detects a likely crash.The carmaker according to the video  hopes to apply this in some cars in the next three to five years.By using radar, laser scanners and a camera, the system automatically brakes if it senses a risk of crashing into a person, object or another car, then steers the car to a free zone if there is one.There is no doubt driving is becoming easier by the day as automakers keep reinventing new technologies and products to keep up with the pace in the game.

Contador Harrison