News Column

Nissan to Build 'Steer-by-wire' Cars

Oct. 22, 2012

Japanese carmaker Nissan says it plans to sell cars with "steer-by-wire" technology within a year.

The technology is common in aircraft, where it is dubbed "fly-by-wire," but the Japanese firm said it would be the first to introduce a car system that sends electronic signals from the steering wheel to a computerized unit that then controls the movement of the tires, rather than using mechanical links.

Drivers would see an improved driving experience since their steering input would be transmitted to the wheels faster than by using a hydraulic and mechanical system, Nissan said.

Some previous computer-assisted car systems have proved troublesome.

In 2004 some Mercedes-Benz customers complained the company's Sensotronic brake-by-wire system -- which used an electrical link to control vehicles' brake pads -- sometimes failed.

Although the cars had a traditional hydraulic backup system, the complaints eventually led to Mercedes-Benz dropping the feature.

Nissan said it would install a backup clutch system in its steer-by-wire vehicles to link up their steering wheels and tires in the event of a problem.

One analyst said he thought the technology would find acceptance.

"I think initially people will find it a bit spooky but will be reassured by the fact there is a mechanical back-up if required," Jay Nagley, managing director of a British auto consulting firm, told the BBC.



Source: Copyright United Press International 2012


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