TRW Automotive is supplying an innovative steering angle sensor technology from its Kelsey-Hayes Company subsidiary to Chrysler Group for several 2007 model year vehicles. This technology provides accurate and timely information to the vehicle's electronic stability programme (ESP) system.

Making its debut on the 2007 Dodge Caliber, TRW's steering angle sensor monitors the rotational speed and angular position of the steering wheel and feeds this information to the ESP system. If erratic movement of the steering wheel or other signs of a loss of vehicle control are detected by the steering angle sensor, the ESP calculates the driver's intended vehicle motion and compares this to the vehicle's actual motion. The ESP system can then adjust the vehicle's dynamics, helping to direct the vehicle in the path intended by the driver.

The sensor consists of multiple optical emitters and receivers that are integrated directly into the steering column clockspring, helping improve accuracy, robustness and durability.

TRW said that, unlike other traditional steering angle sensors that are mounted separately onto the steering column, the compact design of the its steering angle sensor allows it to be easily incorporated into the steering column module, which includes the clockspring, turn signal, windshield wiper switch and other components, reducing the complexity of the system. In addition, the sensor's high level of integration enables vehicle manufacturers to include the technology within existing clockspring packaging at a relatively low cost.

The technology is the first of its kind in North America to communicate its functions on multiple vehicle information networks. The sensor uses a high-speed control area network (CAN) to transmit information to the vehicle's ESP system and a low-speed local interconnect network (LIN) to operate the turn signals and other body control devices. The combination of CAN and LIN in a steering column module offers increased reliability through the reduction of connectors and is more cost effective due to reductions in wire harnesses and vehicle weight.

Another added benefit of the technology is that the performance of the sensor can be adjusted to meet an automaker's specifications and requirements of the vehicle's stability control system.

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