Automobiles keep getting more and more advanced, with computers playing an ever-increasingly vital role in their operation. But some things remain the same. Despite more advanced (if not necessarily better) technologies available, we still burn fossils to fuel our engines, we still check what's behind us in actual mirrors and (with few exceptions) we still turn a steering wheel mechanically connected to the front wheels to change directions. But that doesn't mean automakers aren't working at new solutions.
We've sampled electric steering systems developed by Japanese automakers like Honda and Infiniti that disconnect the front wheels from the steering column, but while those systems may be the way of the future, they leave the driver feeling physically disconnected from the road. Ferrari, however, has a different idea.
Instead of either relying completely on a traditional system or replacing it with an entirely digital one, Ferrari appears to have found a sweet spot in the middle. According to a patent filing obtained by Evo, Ferrari is developing a system that still uses a direct mechanical steering linkage, but enhances it through the use of software that corrects for certain inconsistencies.
Those issues which the system seeks to address reportedly include inconsistent amounts of effort required to turn the wheel both at different angles and from left to right – issues which most drivers in most cars would probably never notice but which a focused driving machine like a Ferrari seeks to address. The system is said to be entirely transparent to the driver but would make the steering more linear and consistent without sacrificing the feedback of a traditional, mechanically linked steering rack. Because it likely wouldn't require massive processing power or more robust hardware than the power steering system already installed, it wouldn't add any extra weight, either.
Of course automakers patent technologies all the time and don't necessarily put them in their road cars for one reason or another, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Ferrari fit some sort of system like this to the upcoming new LaFerrari XX rolling test bed for its top clients to try out before considering its installation in its commercially available road cars in the near future.