Ford's new steering system will be available on some vehicles in 2015
Ford says it will launch 'adaptive steering' in 2015, claiming that the new generation of steering technology - developed with Takata - will improve the driving experience.
Ford says its system will help make vehicles easier to manoeuvre at low speeds and in tight spaces. At higher speeds, the new technology will help make the vehicle more agile and fun to drive, Ford claims.
"First and foremost, all Ford Motor Company products have to offer a great driving experience," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "This new steering technology can make any vehicle easier to maneuver and more fun to drive."
Ford's system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel, and requires no change to a vehicle's traditional steering system. The actuator - an electric motor and gearing system - can essentially add to or subtract from a driver's steering inputs. The result is a better driving experience at all speeds, regardless of vehicle size or class, Ford claims.
The system changes the ratio between the driver's actions at the steering wheel - the number of turns - and how much the front wheels turn. In conventional vehicles, this is a fixed steering ratio. Under adaptive steering, the steering ratio continually changes with vehicle speed.
At lower speeds, such as when pulling into a parking space, Ford says the new system makes the vehicle more agile and easier to turn, as it dials more steering into the road wheel. Each low-speed manoeuvre therefore requires less turning of the steering wheel.
At highway speeds, Ford claims the system further optimises steering response, enabling the vehicle to react more smoothly and precisely to driver input. Adaptive steering can help the driver feel more comfortable and can make any drive more enjoyable, the company says.
Adaptive steering will be available on select Ford vehicles beginning next year.
The system was developed for production by Ford in collaboration with Takata.