With as far electric power assist steering (EPAS) has come in recent years, it was only a matter of time before an automaker came up with a fully electric steering system. Nissan has developed such a system that replaces the mechanical steering linkage of today's cars with a "wired" steering column that uses drivers inputs to steer the front wheels via electronic controllers, and this type of system could be found on Infiniti models within the next year.

This type of system could be found on Infiniti models within the next year.

As bad as the feedback is on some current EPAS cars, we're a little skeptical about how such a system would feel, but Nissan says that not only will feedback be more direct, it will also be adjustable. Nissan's independent control steering technology will allow drivers to choose between "Sport" and "Standard" modes depending on what type of roads and driving condition they face. An added benefit of this system is that the steering wheel will be completely isolated from the rest of the steering system to reduce road vibrations felt by the driver.

In the event of power loss, there is a clutch that can engage a backup mechanical link to allow the driver to control the front wheels.

This system also uses a camera to help keep the car driving in a straight line, meaning that drivers won't have to make constant small corrections, which Nissan says will reduce driver fatigue, and it can also auto correct in the event of crosswinds. As a safety precaution, Nissan's new steering system uses three redundant engine controllers to prevent any loss of steering, but in the event that the car loses total power, there is a clutch that can engage a backup mechanical link to allow the driver to control the front wheels.

Nissan is also working on an autonomous emergency steering system that seems to operate in the same vain as auto brake in some newer cars. If the car detects a possible collision, it will initially warn the driver with an audible tone and display. If this is ignored, it will then proceed to auto brake in an attempt to slow the car down. If a collision is still imminent, the car would then automatically swerve to avoid an accident. There are also sensors that can detect if a car is next to or coming head on with the vehicle to prevent an even worse collision.

Scroll down for Nissan's press releases on this new technology.
Show full PR text
Nissan Pioneers First-Ever*1 Independent Control Steering Technology;
To Be On Sale Within a Year

- Delivers responsive performance by controlling tire and steering angles inputs independently-

YOKOHAMA, Japan (October 17, 2012) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled the world's first steering technology that allows independent control of a vehicle's tire angle and steering inputs. This next-generation steering technology was developed by Nissan.

A conventional steering system directs tire movements by transmitting steering inputs to the tires via a mechanical link. Nissan's next-generation steering technology reads the driver's intentions from steering inputs and controls the vehicle's tire movements via electronic signals. This transmits the driver's intentions to the wheels even faster than a mechanical system and increases the direct driving performance feel by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver.

The system controls and insulates the vehicle from unnecessary road-generated disturbances to deliver only the necessary performance feel to the driver. For example, even on a road surface with minor ridges or furrows, the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel tightly and make detailed adjustments, so traveling on the intended path becomes easier.
Accompanying this next-generation steering technology, Nissan has also developed a camera-based straight-line stability system to further enhance on-center driving capability. This system is a world-first*2 technology that improves vehicle stability by making small input angle adjustments so the vehicle will accurately trace and continue as planned in the lane it is traveling. If the vehicle direction changes due to road surface or crosswinds, the system acts to minimize the effect of these conditions resulting in reduced steering input from the driver.

Using a camera mounted above the vehicle's rearview mirror, the system analyzes the road ahead, recognizes the lane direction, detects changes in the vehicle's direction, and transmits this information to multiple electronic control units as electronic signals. If a discrepancy occurs, the system acts to reduce the discrepancy by controlling the opposing force to the tire angle. By reducing the frequency of detailed steering input adjustments, which are a cause of fatigue on long drives, the driver's workload is greatly reduced.

This next-generation steering technology's high reliability is achieved by multiple ECUs. In the event a single ECU malfunctions, another ECU will instantly take control, and in extreme circumstances such as the power supply being disrupted, the backup clutch will act to connect the steering wheel and wheels mechanically, ensuring continued safe travel.

This technology will be equipped on select Infiniti models on sale within one year to provide "Driving as Intended" and "Driving with Peace of Mind" for owners.

*1: World-first development of an independent control steering technology that controls tire and steering angles inputs independently.
*2: World-first development of an accurate tracing technology that enables a driver to continue driving as planned in the lane with small steering angle adjustments (depending on road conditions).

Nissan Announces "Autonomous Emergency Steering System"

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the development of the "Autonomous Emergency Steering System."


This system offers a high level of collision avoidance capability by applying automatic braking and automatic steering in situations where a collision is imminent and evading obstacles by braking may not be effective. The system takes effect in situations where unpredictable risks arise, such as sudden intrusions onto the road in low speed zones, or when a collision at high speed is imminent due to the driver's delayed recognition of the tail end of a traffic jam.

Nissan has long worked on the development and commercialization of brake-based control technology. The company has recently promoted development of technology to deal with situations that cannot be mitigated through braking alone. In order to prevent an accident from occurring, technology is needed to identify potential obstacles. Nissan has succeeded in developing technology which, through high-precision sensing technology and on-board control technology, automatically steers the vehicle away from potential collisions, when braking alone is insufficient.

The Autonomous Emergency Steering System, using the information provided by the front-mounted radar and camera, the two left and right rear radars, and the five laser scanners attached around the vehicle, initially acts on a risk of collision that cannot be avoided by braking. Simultaneously, it checks if there is a forward zone free of obstacles and that there are no vehicles approaching from the rear, and then displays to the driver the direction that the vehicle should be steered. If the driver cannot immediately steer in that direction, the system takes over to automatically steer the vehicle to help avoid a collision.

Nissan has established the Vision Zero safety goal, which aims to help eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The guiding force behind this goal is the concept of the "Safety Shield," which identifies six stages of driving conditions, from "normal driving conditions" through "post-accident condition", and works to provide the most effective counter measure against sources of danger which occur at during each stage. The "Autonomous Emergency Steering System" is based on this initiative.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 62 Comments
      john
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a fantastic idea. Lets remove even more driver feedback through the controls, via expensive to replace electronics.
      yrator77
      • 2 Years Ago
      Adds a whole new dimension to "Blue Screen of Death".
      n.bob2
      • 2 Years Ago
      I WANT TO FEEL THE VIBRATION THROUGH THE STEERING WHEEL!!!!!!! It's so awesome they are fixing a problem that doesn't exist.
      jebibudala
      • 2 Years Ago
      Having worn a software engineers hat for many years in the past, I'm not too thrilled about this. It seems like an overly complex solution to a non-existent problem. Take for example the recent GM side curtain airbag deployments at track events. The software algorithms were/are flawed. They understood aggressive change direction inputs as an imminent rollover and deployed airbags when it shouldn't have. The system will only be as reliable as the person/team who wrote the microcode.
      mr.vw
      • 2 Years Ago
      no thanks, I trust raw steel over electronics any day, especially when it comes to steering and electrical failure. I see the headlines now: Death by wire!!
      EUniqe
      • 2 Years Ago
      reduce road vibrations? THAT'S CALLED STEERING FEEL YOU MORONS.
      jz78817
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not so sure I see the advantage to a system like this, for a few reasons. First, you know there'll be a regulation/mandate that any electric steering system have the ability to mechanically connect the wheel and rack (like the Nissan system does.) Given that it'll have to carry the weight around of the mechanical backup components, what's really the advantage here? the EPAS systems already on the market relieve the engine of the parasitic drag of the power steering pump.
        Yeah yeah
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jz78817
        I guess theoretically the backup mechanical system could be much less heavy duty and robust than what we have now, since it isn't expected to be used full time, thus saving some weight. But of course the electric system would add weight too. It could be it isn't about saving weight right now. It may be to have the system in cars long enough to prove it is so reliable the mechanical backup isn't needed. That way, down the road when the most restrictive CAFE rules are in place, they can help meet them by having lighter, electric steering with no mechanical backup.
      Brandon
      • 2 Years Ago
      As long as I can turn off the auto-corrections about lanes and crosswinds I'd be fine with it, assuming they can do it without hurting steering feedback too much.
      Mr. Braindead
      • 2 Years Ago
      First there was "unintended acceleration", now we will have "unintended swerving". Oh officer, it wasn't me!!
      Cruising
      • 2 Years Ago
      get use to it folks, all those concept cars we thought were cool like the gm hy-wire years ago all those technologies are going to become mainstream sooner than you might think.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      What possible impetus is there for this? Seriously, I can't think of one.
        DB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        Nissan announced their plan to offer a full collision avoidance by steering system. A standard single motor EPAS system has a pretty significant failure mode if the motor fails. This system is a dual-redundant system similar to aircraft fly-by-wire. This allows them to push for more agressive self-driving systems that will be able to safely operate in the event of a motor failure. Also Nissan already has a 4 Wheel Active Steering (4WAS) system that greatly improves the handling, particularly in lane changes, of their higher end cars (M, Fuga). The problem with the 4WAs system is the harmonic drive the connects the active steering system to the steering column limits the turning rate of the front wheels of the 4WAS system. It isn't nearly as fast as an emergency swerve would need. Decoupling the steering column (as this system does) improves the turning rate of the active steering part of he system, but it adds some new failure modes. This is why they went with the dual actuators and why the entire thing is running on a FlexRay bus.
      k_m94
      • 2 Years Ago
      Save 0.01% fuel, lose 100% of actual steering feel. If it's not connected to a rack and pinion system why even bother with the notion of a big cumbersome wheel? Just integrate it into a 20 inch touchscreen infodrivotainment panel, like everything will end up being eventually. Let's pair it up with drive by wire brakes, throttle, a CVT, and heck, make 95% of the driving fully autonomous anyways. Have the remaining 5% controlled by updating on Twitter.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        Yuck, double and triple yuck.
        bhtooefr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        Mercedes already did DBW brakes, too, with (AFAIK) no mechanical or hydraulic backup of any sort.
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