Ford is readying a new technology developed in concert with one of its suppliers designed to make vehicles easier to maneuver at low speeds and in tight spaces while making vehicles more agile at higher speeds.
Called “Adaptive Steering,” it changes the ratio between the number of times the driver turns the steering wheel and how much the front wheels turn. Normally, it’s a fixed ratio so regardless of how fast the car is moving, the driver is going to get the same result.
Big turns require multiple spins of the wheel for tasks like parking or moving around objects in a parking lot, whereas at highways speeds, only slight movement of the wheel is required to adjust the turn.
With the new technology, developed with Takata Inc., drivers won’t need to turn the steering wheel as often as slow speeds. At highway speeds, the system further optimizes steering response, enabling the vehicle to react more smoothly and precisely to driver input. Adaptive steering can help the driver feel more comfortable and can make any drive more enjoyable.
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“First and foremost, all Ford Motor Company products have to offer a great driving experience,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “This new steering technology can make any vehicle easier to maneuver and more fun to drive.”
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Ford’s system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel, and requires no change to a vehicle’s traditional steering system. The actuator can essentially add to or subtract from a driver’s steering inputs.
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The automaker isn’t revealing what vehicles it will be available on, but it’s due out next year, Ford officials confirmed. It also hasn’t been determined how it will be offered whether it will be optional equipment or part of an overall performance package, such as the maker’s Titanium line-up for cars and Platinum for trucks. No pricing has been set either.