Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Infiniti Q50 with Steer-by-Wire

So why am I featuring a current production vehicle that no doubt will be produced in the hundreds of thousands on a site for the rare and unusual? Well down to one feature, another first for a production car, no not some new hybrid system or electric drive, this saloons first is steer-by-wire, or Direct Adaptive Steering in Infiniti speak. Yes you read that right it’s the first production car where the steering wheel isn’t directly connected to the front wheels. Instead the motion is transmitted to the wheels via an electrical signal that operate servos that in turn moves the wheels!!!!! It also comes with 96 possible settings to boot.

I know this has happened in planes for years and it will save weight and allow for better engineered engine bays that don’t need to snake the steering column round the engine via an increasing number of universal joints, but surely it will further dilute the driving experience. Distancing the driver through ever lessening feedback about what the vehicle is doing, cocooning the occupants further into a sense of safety and security that comes hand in hand with increased role the cars electronics make in helping the driver actually drive!!!!

I’m not daft enough to realise that this will be mainstream within the decade, and increasing feedback will be added to the wheel to give you a false sense of its connection to the road, but the question has to be Why? A connected system has inherent safety built in and redundancy ie if the ignition cuts out not only do you lose your braking and power steering but now you will potentially lose all you’re steering. Now I know Infinity will have and state a huge amount of redundancy within the electronics, ie uses 3 CPU’s etc but these are a result of the issue created by the system not as a result of trying to reduce the risk of an inherent one based on mechanics.

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