Steer-by-wire technology means there is no physical contact between the steering wheel and the steered wheels. Because the steering wheel only acts as a transmitter, the effects of road errors do not reach the driver's hands, and countless parameters can be changed freely in seconds. Through these steering systems, the control software offers almost unlimited possibilities to adjust the relationship between car and driver.
Any power adjustment, gear ratio and steering feel can be created freely, as cars can be fully customized or adapted to current speed and road conditions. In the event of a skid, this steering mechanism can automatically compensate for understeer or oversteer in a fraction of a second, which can significantly increase active safety.
Another advantage of steering without mechanical contact is that it saves weight and the steering wheel can be installed at any angle and position, and it is much easier to install the steering wheel on the other side in such cars. Engineers have more freedom in designing the engine compartment without having to worry about the steering column, and car assembly is also faster because there are fewer mechanical parts.
However, there are also engineering challenges: not only is it necessary to be able to generate a real steering feel and feedback electronically, but it is also necessary to achieve operational reliability (for example, by achieving immunity to near electromagnetic fields), as well as cybersecurity. . Security, so that intruders cannot control the car. According to many engineers, the use of “steer-by-wire” systems for Level 3 and 4 autonomous cars will be necessary, because in order to avoid the risk of accidents, it is expected that the steering wheel will not turn. During automated driving, only when the driver has already regained control.
Toyota is on track to begin mass production of its innovative drive-by-wire system, One Motion Grip, by the end of 2024, according to information from the British Autocar website, after making major improvements to it recently. The most significant change is that engineers chose a 200-degree gear ratio instead of the previous 150 degrees, which is less direct and therefore supposedly gives a smoother, more natural feel. In this way, it will be easier for users to switch, because the use will give a familiar feeling, that is, the difference compared to the traditional router will be smaller.
Toyota recently tested the system with hundreds of people inside and outside the company to make the driving experience it provides as intuitive as possible. Initially, it will be offered for the new electric models, Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ at an additional cost, but other models may also get it later. The One Motion Grip has been developed to meet the world's most stringent wire guidance legislation; These used to exist in Europe, but China has now surpassed the EU in terms of safety standards.
Europe has established its own certification program for “by-wire” steering systems, eliminating the need for a mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels, which was previously a legal requirement (which is why older systems also had a backup mechanical steering gear). However, the law still does not allow “over-the-air” updates to such systems. Steering without a mechanical link is already legal in Japan, while there are no regulations in the United States.
The “steer-by-wire” systems will also be an integral part of the new modular architecture that forms the basis of the next generation of electric vehicles for Toyota and Lexus after 2026. The Lexus LF-ZC, LF-ZL, Toyota FT-3e, FT-Se and Land Cruiser Se will be built At the Japan Mobility 2023 exhibition in Tokyo on this “Gigacasting” process, which consists of three main parts and only the serial versions as well.
According to Simon Humphreys, the company's design director, the introduction of 'wire routing' opens up huge opportunities for interior designers. “We want the cabin to be as open as possible,” he said. “We could get rid of many small and large components, and the internal panels would have to hide fewer mechanical parts. This would give more and more freedom.”
Meanwhile, Toyota is also developing a steering system called Neo Steer, also unveiled in Tokyo, which transfers throttle and brake control to the steering wheel to provide mobility for people with disabilities who cannot use the pedals.
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