Intuitive motion control company, Nexteer Automotive, has announced the expansion of its advanced steering technology suite at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Nexteer’s suite serves as the technology base from which the company offers a combination of steering innovations addressing the evolving role of technology in a semi- and fully automated world.
“While these industry-leading innovations can each stand on their own merit, the real game-changer is the combination of technologies in a single suite of technologies,” said Jeff Zuraski, Executive Director of Research & Development.
This advanced technology suite features several key components:
Steering on demand system
With the press of a button or simply by grabbing the steering wheel, Steering on Demand System enables the safe, intuitive transitions of steering control between manual driving and automated driving in vehicles capable of SAE Level 3 and beyond automated driving.
Quiet Wheel steering
Within Nexteer’s technology suite, Quiet Wheel steering enables the steering wheel to remain still during automated driving mode, even while the vehicle is in the process of turning. Quiet Wheel steering eliminates potential distractions and hazards of a fast-rotating steering wheel in front of the driver during hands-off driving, enhancing safety and sense of peace in the cabin.
Stowable steering column
Vehicles equipped with Quiet Wheel steering may also be fitted with a 'stowable' column that retracts when automated driving is engaged, increasing available space for driver comfort and other activities. This stowable steering column technology gives the driver more control and options with safe, natural transitions between manual and automated driving modes.
Steer-by-wire: Centre link in Nexteer’s technology suite
In steer-by-wire, the mechanical connection between the road wheels and the steering wheel is replaced with electronics and actuators on the steering column and rack. This system, supporting both manual and automated driving, opens new possibilities for advanced safety features, vehicle lightweighting and packaging flexibility. Nexteer’s SbW emulates the 'feel of the road' and offers a wide performance range – from sporty to luxury. In addition, the system’s variable steering ratio enhances manoeuvrability, as well as factors into Nexteer’s SbW steering feel achievement.
“When we started, Nexteer had one simple question: What will people want to experience in steering control during varying stages of semi- and fully autonomous driving? This question led to others as we tried to imagine all the nuances of this unchartered territory,” said Zuraski. “As we painted a clearer picture of the evolving role of steering in a semi- and fully automated world, we started creating solutions that led to our suite of technologies under our Steering on Demand System’s umbrella.”
High availability electric power steering (EPS): Safety net is always on
Nexteer’s high availability EPS is designed for resilient operational availability, using top-rated components that are intelligently optimised through redundancies in torque and position sensors, electronic control units, winding motors as well as dual sets of vehicle power and communication connectors. In addition, Nexteer’s simultaneous, multi-path processing further enhances the safety net as the industry moves toward varying levels of automation.
Cyber secure advanced steering
While Nexteer’s customers incorporate cyber security at the vehicle level, the company takes safety to the next level by integrating multi-layer cyber security at a steering system level for maximum protection. These cyber security technologies consist of specifically designed hardware modules on the semi-conductor level, as well as a multi-layered cryptographic software structure, that identifies and authorises information and command flow between the steering system and other in-vehicle or external controllers. As vehicles adopt advanced electronics to enable automated driving, internet connectivity and V2X communication, cyber secure steering technologies become even more critical.
Tech suite tie-ins with strategic joint venture, partnership
While Nexteer’s steering technology suite addresses current and future needs in lateral control, its R&D joint venture with Continental Automotive – CNXMotion – allows for expanded application by integrating steering with braking solutions. CNXMotion integrates longitudinal and lateral control technologies while accelerating R&D for both parent companies. Furthermore, Nexteer and WABCO announced a partnership to develop and supply active steering systems for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles using Nexteer’s Magnetic Torque Overlay (MTO), a breakthrough ADAS-enabling product. Consequently, Nexteer’s comprehensive technology suite also offers comprehensive applications, including small cars up to Class 8 trucks.