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Ford's Bringing Adaptive Steering To the Masses

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the power-power-steering dept.

Transportation 128

cartechboy writes: "Most automakers have made the jump from hydraulic power steering to electronic power steering to help conserve fuel. By using an electric motor instead of a hydraulic system, less energy is drawn from the engine. Many luxury automakers have also introduced adaptive steering with the electronic power steering systems, but now Ford is looking to bring this feature to the masses. Adaptive steering builds on the existing speed-sensitive function of the electronic power steering system by altering the steering ratio and effort based on driver inputs and settings. The system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel. It's an electric motor and gearing system that can essentially add or subtract from the driver's steering inputs. This will make the vehicle easier to maneuver at low speeds, and make a vehicle feel more stable at high speeds. The system (video) will be offered on certain Ford vehicles within the next 12 months."

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Ghost in the machine (5, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 months ago | (#47130325)

Does that mean that if one of those actuators or logic board malfunctions, that it could steer a car into traffic? All it takes is for a few milliseconds and some force to jerk the wheel out of someone's hands. Or so I would imagine.

Re:Ghost in the machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130409)

This would be the #1 consideration for the engineers implementing this system. There are probably hundreds of systems in a modern car that would cause catastrophic failure if not for backup and safety systems.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130519)

I remember reading about a vehicle made in Europe that was completely drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages whatsoever. Of course, some vehicles had glitches, and when they did, there was nothing to do but hope the wreck didn't kill you.

You know how many criminal organizations would love to be able to use an assist motor to jam a steering wheel at will? With how interconnected vehicles are, it might just take a bluetooth hole to get on the CANBus, then go from there.

I wouldn't blame Ford specifically, but I do worry about things like GM's OnStar being a prime target for hackers. Get control of that, disable all GM cars, tout the accomplishment, and win immense street cred. Same with getting motor-assisted steering to start jerking the wheel at random to cause crashes, it would put an organization on the map and give them respect worldwide.

Car makers have been good, but in general, most companies feel that security has no ROI, so don't do much than lip service, and coupled with all the crap that can take over a vehicle's ECM [1], it can be concerning.

[1]: I was reading about a "tattle" device by one insurance company which apparently something over the OBD 2 connector, so if the device was removed, the vehicle wouldn't start. Is this real? Doubtful, but it is concerning.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 2 months ago | (#47131609)

I remember reading about a vehicle made in Europe that was completely drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages whatsoever.

This might have been the Mercedes-Benz F200 [wikipedia.org] concept car -
driven by completely electronic sidesticks.

This allowed for some cool features, e.g. completely vibration-free controls on
cobblestones while the electronic steering made continuous tiny adjustments to
the front wheels.

It also means it had no chance to be certified for public roads.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | about 2 months ago | (#47132275)

I remember reading about a vehicle made in Europe that was completely drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages whatsoever. Of course, some vehicles had glitches, and when they did, there was nothing to do but hope the wreck didn't kill you.

You know how many criminal organizations would love to be able to use an assist motor to jam a steering wheel at will? With how interconnected vehicles are, it might just take a bluetooth hole to get on the CANBus, then go from there.

I wouldn't blame Ford specifically, but I do worry about things like GM's OnStar being a prime target for hackers. Get control of that, disable all GM cars, tout the accomplishment, and win immense street cred. Same with getting motor-assisted steering to start jerking the wheel at random to cause crashes, it would put an organization on the map and give them respect worldwide.

Car makers have been good, but in general, most companies feel that security has no ROI, so don't do much than lip service, and coupled with all the crap that can take over a vehicle's ECM [1], it can be concerning.

[1]: I was reading about a "tattle" device by one insurance company which apparently something over the OBD 2 connector, so if the device was removed, the vehicle wouldn't start. Is this real? Doubtful, but it is concerning.

Even without steer by wire, this can be accomplished with electric power steering. As an example, look at "Active Park Assist". The system will command the steering wheel to turn, pretty much to full lock, based on what the sensors see. I assume (maybe?) if it detects resistance on the steering wheel it won't over power it, but the technology is already there for the wheels to turn as the computer sees fit. Electronic Throttle Control means the gas pedal is really just a suggestion to the computer, and hybrids with regenerative braking, the brakes are (somewhat?) brake by wire.

Plus with push button start, to kill power for have to hold the power button for several seconds if you need an emergency shut down due to a malfunction. Cars are also moving to electronic parking brakes too.

Ghost in the machine (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130413)

No thanks, I'll keep my hand on the burger and cell phone and coffee and makeup and... where I'm in full control

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 months ago | (#47130443)

I'm pretty sure designers of fly-by-wire airplanes have already solved the problem. ;-)

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130503)

Yes, because cars fly 30k above ground and have vast distances between it and other planes in the sky. A millisecond malfunction might pull the car into head-on traffic. But I'm sure the engineers know that. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Ghost in the machine (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47130529)

I'm pretty sure designers of fly-by-wire airplanes have already solved the problem. ;-)

Yes, they had ejection seats for the first couple of decades of fly-by-wire. ;-)

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 2 months ago | (#47130659)

They also had people shooting at them...

Re:Ghost in the machine (3, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 2 months ago | (#47131003)

They also had people shooting at them...

Sort of like driving in west Oakland.

Re:Ghost in the machine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132445)

Modded informative. I would like to further elaborate that the parent's statement is true. He's referring to niggers.

More lost to mechanical/electronics malfunction (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47132399)

They also had people shooting at them...

In theory but not in practice. One of the earliest, if not the first widely deployed fly-by-wire, was the F-16. The number of F-16s lost to enemy action was very small compared to those lost due to mechanical/electronics malfunction.

Yes ejection seats predate fly-by-wire but they certainly made fly-by-wire early adoption a lot easier.

Re:Ghost in the machine (3, Informative)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | about 2 months ago | (#47130493)

That would also be an issue with the electric steering alone. While it's hydraulic, my RX-7 also has speed sensitive power steering and it works rather well. Variable ratio steering was first available on the Honda S2000, and I don't think anyone's complaining. This system simply uses EPAS to accomplish much the same thing.

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 months ago | (#47130883)

I'm pretty sure the S2000 did not have speed-variable-ratio steering; this is entirely new. All cars these days have rack-and-pinion steering, with a direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the steering arms and front wheels. What the S2000 had, IIRC, is different gearing on the rack, so as the pinion turned, the ratio would increase towards the limits of the steering range. Basically, the slots cut in the rack were closer together in the middle, and farther apart at the ends. Big f'in deal.

What this system proposes is to vary the steering ratio with vehicle speed. I honestly have no idea how they plan to do this mechanically, unless they're going to eliminate the direct coupling between the steering and the front wheels, which sounds like a terrible idea to me (for one thing, how do you steer the car when the power is off? Batteries and engines do die sometimes.)

Re:Ghost in the machine (3, Interesting)

ottawanker (597020) | about 2 months ago | (#47130997)

Electric power steering works with sensors on the steering wheel that detect when you turn it, and how much. The car then does some calculations taking into account the force and speed with which you turn the wheel, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. It then activates a motor, which actually turns the wheels.

I believe there is an electromagnetic clutch that disconnects the steering wheel from the actual rack and pinion, unless a fault is detected.

Re:Ghost in the machine (5, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 months ago | (#47131253)

Electric power steering works with sensors on the steering wheel that detect when you turn it, and how much. The car then does some calculations taking into account the force and speed with which you turn the wheel, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. It then activates a motor, which actually turns the wheels.

No, it doesn't.

EPS is little different from hydraulic power steering. The motor merely assists the driver in steering the car. There's still a direct mechanical connection between the wheel and the steering arms. The sensors on the steering wheel are detecting how much torque you're applying to the wheel, and use that and the road speed to determine how much assist to give via the motor.

There's no clutch in normal EPS cars. These new variable-ratio ones, however, might just work that way.

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

ottawanker (597020) | about 2 months ago | (#47131875)

Sorry, I was talking about the electric power steering found on steer-by-wire cars, like the Infiniti Q50.

http://www.autoweek.com/articl... [autoweek.com]

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | about 2 months ago | (#47131601)

Here's a Honda press-release [honda.com] on it. It is entirely possible that the S2000 system is something different, but I have a feeling that this is just a combination of an EPAS system that does something similar, in addition to varying weight. I agree with you on the lack of mechanical linkage. Nissan has some system that retains the driveshaft for times when the steer-by-wire is malfunctioning, but I have a feeling that by the time it's malfunctioning (10 years on), the mechanical fall-back mechanism will likely be faulty too.

Re:Ghost in the machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132297)

In spite of that Honda press release about a specific type of variable speed steering that debuted on the S2000, Honda's first speed-variable power steering was on the venerable Honda Prelude 4 wheel steering versions back in the 80's.

Honda used to do some serious engineering in their automobiles, but in the mid-2000's they hired too many folks from Detroit ... with about the results you'd expect (ever wonder why that huge shield on the front of Acura's reminded you of something GM might put on its cars? Yeah, that's why)

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130553)

That could be a danger in any power steering system. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

(How hydraulic power steering works.) [youtube.com]

Altering the power of the assist shouldn't make this any more dangerous. Worse case, you lose power assist. Although that's bit GM hard lately with their ignition switch recall.

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

hermitdev (2792385) | about 2 months ago | (#47131035)

Altering the power of the assist shouldn't make this any more dangerous. Worse case, you lose power assist. Although that's bit GM hard lately with their ignition switch recall.

That's by biggest concern with this: if you engine stalls or turns off (for whatever) reason, do you completely lose steering, or you just lose power assist? There is a huge difference, even though suddenly losing assist can cause trouble.

Re:Ghost in the machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131259)

Hydraulic and electric power steering both have still have a manual connection to the steering works. This wouldn't be any different. Unfortunately, I think the typical driver would crash immediately if power assist was lost.

My hybrid with regenerative braking has fly-by-wire brakes. Which is a little discomforting. When you mash the brake pedal, it's just a rheostat and the computer decides to put on the brakes. Or not.

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130611)

I'll stick with my horse thank you very much!

None of this newfangled automobile nonsense.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47130619)

Does that mean that if one of those actuators or logic board malfunctions, that it could steer a car into traffic?

Or becomes unresponsive when the key disengages, like power steering in the recent GM recall scandal? At least there steering only became difficult. They are going to have to power the system as long as the wheels are turning.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

sn0wcrash (223995) | about 2 months ago | (#47131231)

I had one of the Pontiac G6s with the electric power steering assist. Let me tell you, when that electric assist went out it was exceedingly difficult to turn. Even at speed. Hydraulically assisted cars of the past would still be relatively easy to steer when moving over about 5mph. That G6 was absolutely dangerous when the electric assist failed. While GM claimed there was no issue, they did revert to hydraulic steering assist in later models. That alone should tell you the truth of the matter.

Re:Ghost in the machine (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47131313)

It doesn't work that way. At worst the steering would become heavy due to lack of power steering. The motors are designed so that you can overcome them in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Re:Old Tech! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131137)

Very old news.
I'm not sure about the US, but Euro and Asian car makers have been using similar electric power steering systems (assisted by a motor in the steering column or steering rack) since the early 2000's.

Also... Electric power steering systems are NOT fly by wire. A physical link still remains between the steering wheel and wheels. The EPS system could loose power or malfunction and you would still be able to steer ok.

(I've just retrofitted EPS from a 2006 Toyota RAV4 into a 1990 Toyota Celica)

Re:Old Tech! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 months ago | (#47131489)

Very old news.
I'm not sure about the US, but Euro and Asian car makers have been using similar electric power steering systems (assisted by a motor in the steering column or steering rack) since the early 2000's.

Also... Electric power steering systems are NOT fly by wire. A physical link still remains between the steering wheel and wheels. The EPS system could loose power or malfunction and you would still be able to steer ok.

(I've just retrofitted EPS from a 2006 Toyota RAV4 into a 1990 Toyota Celica)

What if it malfunctions and actively fights against you?

Re:Old Tech! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131979)

What if it malfunctions and actively fights against you?

Read IEC 61508 [wikipedia.org] and ISO 26262 [wikipedia.org]
The standard documents can be purchased from whatever organization is responsible for standardization in you country.
They cover all the "What if contrived example" that you will find people posting on Slashdot.

Re:Ghost in the machine (5, Informative)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 months ago | (#47131405)

Depends on the implementation. BMW, for instance [bmw.com] , uses a planetary gear set connected to the steering wheel, the rack and an electric motor. If the motor or the adaptive steering logic fails, the motor is locked and you get an ordinary constant-ratio steering system.
Checking whether the steering output matches the input would take care of your scenario.

Re:Ghost in the machine (2)

jcdr (178250) | about 2 months ago | (#47132101)

This is old news: this system is already used on some cars since many years. Toyota for example have it at least since the 10 years old Prius II.
And now think about the driverless Google car...

I always turn off mouse acceleration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130327)

So I guess this isn't good news, is it?

Radical new way to steer the car. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 months ago | (#47130351)

That large wheel that can allow two hands grip it completely to steer the car is very old fashioned. For the current crop of young drivers just coming in, they will learn it so much faster if we replace the steering wheels with this. [pixabay.com] They have already accumulated thousands of hours of experience long before they hit driver-ed class. This electric steering will help us get there faster.

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 months ago | (#47130379)

Fixing the no-hot-link issue. This is the device. [umd.edu]

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 months ago | (#47130891)

Wow, are you really that stupid? You can't use pushbuttons to steer a car.

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 months ago | (#47130395)

This is a stupid idea. For one thing, a big, red, octagonal stop sign is not a good way to steer a car.

But in case you're talking about joysticks, those are terrible ways to control cars, because they don't have the range of motion that a steering wheel does. If they made any sense at all, you'd see Formula 1 cars with them. You don't. F1 cars all use steering wheels, despite being loaded with an incredible amount of technology.

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 2 months ago | (#47130707)

Not even proper joysticks, but shitty mini-analogs.

All you need to do to discover how bad an idea joystick controls on a car would be is to try to use a scissor lift. They have a lot of torque (at low top speed), and you basically have to wedge your arm into the control harness and control the stick with a stiff wrist. Otherwise, you push the stick forward, the lift accelerates, inertia jerks your arm back, and you pull back on the stick. Rinse, repeat...

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (3, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | about 2 months ago | (#47130955)

Not even proper joysticks, but shitty mini-analogs.

All you need to do to discover how bad an idea joystick controls on a car would be is to try to use a scissor lift. They have a lot of torque (at low top speed), and you basically have to wedge your arm into the control harness and control the stick with a stiff wrist. Otherwise, you push the stick forward, the lift accelerates, inertia jerks your arm back, and you pull back on the stick. Rinse, repeat...

Or try driving any piece of heavy equipment over any kind of rough ground. I wondered why the front-end loader driver kept revving the engine. When I drove it myself, I quickly found out that rough ground + no suspension made the operator's foot bounce on the gas pedal and create a positive feedback cycle. More bump = more bouncing off the gas pedal = even more bumping around.

Also Saab tried a joystick control in one of their prototypes [wikipedia.org] . Top Gear tried it out in one episode, it didn't work very well at all.

PC vs Console Drivers (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | about 2 months ago | (#47131235)

Yeah, and since when does a car have auto-aim? You call that realistic driving? Any driver with a keyboard and mouse would beat the crap a console joystick driver!

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132087)

Electronically controlled power steering is not allowed in F1.

http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/technical_regulations/8708/

Re:Radical new way to steer the car. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132661)

I think he was making a joke. This is to you fag boys that this wooshed right over.

While Google eliminates the steering wheel... (2)

sillivalley (411349) | about 2 months ago | (#47130359)

So tell me please, which company is the innovator?

Re:While Google eliminates the steering wheel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130597)

You might be right. I'm kind of surprised that Google was so forward thinking. I expected them to put fingerprint readers in the steering wheel so that they could sell them to their real customers in an attempt to better track the end user.

Re:While Google eliminates the steering wheel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131623)

While Google eliminates the steering wheel...

why would google *eliminate* the steering wheel? an lcd display in the center of it is the perfect location for ads (highly targeted, of course, based on previous location and shopping history and current location).

Yay more recalls upcoming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130369)

This tech is why you get to take your Ford Escape in for a recall today. Enjoy!

Version 1.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130381)

Boy I can't wait to try out the Version 1.0 of this bad boy.

Old tech is new news? (3, Informative)

elistan (578864) | about 2 months ago | (#47130419)

This isn't exactly new. While I don't know how exactly the system works, Honda offered variable gear steering on the S2000 Type V [honda.com] 14 years ago. A while I don't know if any "for the masses" cars has variable gear steering, there are a number of manufacturers who currently offer it. (BMW, for example.)

Re:Old tech is new news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130483)

The adaptive power steering being fully electric is not yet present in common car models. Hydraulic / mechanic was, even in the 1970s (many Citroen models).

Re:Old tech is new news? (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 2 months ago | (#47132137)

The Toyota Prius have it at least since the Prius II from 2003. Now that depend how much you think this is a common car model...

Re:Old tech is new news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130565)

Volkswagens have had this for several years now...I guess a VW isn't the People's Car anymore...

Re:Old tech is new news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130661)

The Kia Soul has had steer-by-wire since inception AND allows the driver to change the dynamics of the steering wheel on the fly. In fact, Ford already offered variable adaptive steering as an option on all of their midclass vehicles and up.

I think it's safe to say Dice has killed slashdot.

Re: Old tech is new news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130911)

Wrong. Ford is changing the actual steering ratio. Kia is just changing how the steering feels.

Re:Old tech is new news? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131527)

My 1968 Firebird has Variable Ratio steering that was an original option. It works very nicely.

The only problem: you get used to it and when you drive a car without it, it feels like the steering is too quick, twitchy, difficult to control, and you could oversteer at higher speeds.

I think all of these automated safety things are great, but if someone who is used to them then has to drive an older or simpler car, they might cause an accident. I'm not saying we should not have these features; I'm just saying that people need to be aware of the differences.

IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47130423)

I can see this getting ugly quickly.

Re:IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable? (1)

bswarm (2540294) | about 2 months ago | (#47130603)

You only need power steering at no/low speeds. Hydraulic Power Steering works all the time (most models) and makes it feel too loose at higher speeds, using electric assist gives power steering at no/low speeds then shuts off at higher speeds which makes the steering feel less sloppy. Example, an old 1968 Ford stationwagon with power steering was easy to steer until hwy speeds then feels like it oversteers way too much.

Re:IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47130821)

Example, an old 1968 Ford stationwagon with power steering was easy to steer until hwy speeds then feels like it oversteers way too much.

Meh, I don't think that's the fault of the power steering, it was the fault of the fact that the first quarter turn didn't actually do anything.

At least, that was certainly true with my father's cars in the 70's and 80's.

It always felt like the steering inputs were really loosely coupled to the actual steering, and would go from mushy to terrifying in a small increment (which was smaller than the play before which it did absolutely nothing).

The first time I drove my brother's VW Jetta it felt like it was on rails.

Re:IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable? (2)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 2 months ago | (#47131093)

My girlfriend's 1966 Dodge Dart had power steering and was 7.5 turns lock to lock compared to my 1959 TR3 with no power steering and 2.5 turns lock to lock. Your description of the steering going from mushy to terrifying certainly applied to that Dodge. As you say, the TR3 felt like it was on rails.

Re:IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable? (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 2 months ago | (#47130867)

IS it more stable, or does it FEEL more stable?

Yes. Also, yes.

With conventional, mechanically-linked, non-variable steering, if I twitch the wheel at 2 mph while creeping into a parking space, nothing happens. If I twitch the wheel the same amount on the highway at 60 mph, I lurch sickeningly across a couple of lanes of traffic.

A sensible system would allow me to make moderately-sized inputs at whatever speed I'm travelling, and convert those to appropriate adjustments of the wheels of the car: big deflections of my tires with lots of power assist when I'm parallel parking, tiny deflections when I'm changing lanes on the highway.

Just recalled the last one.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130431)

They just recalled their last attempt at changing the steering.

EPAS is already recalled and it just came out in the newer cars.

Now while that attempt (easier) was recalled, they now have their sights set even higher (harder) yet they couldn't seem to get the first one right.

Perhaps they should slow down and clear out all the recalls before trying to innovate again. Building upon a bad foundation just leads to more cruft in the way of fixing the foundation.

News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130449)

It's a system that most European car makers switched to years ago.

Re:News? (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 2 months ago | (#47130671)

And my 2001 Honda had it.

Re:News? (2)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 2 months ago | (#47130873)

False. Electric boosters ("power steering") systems have been quite widely used for a while already. However, in this case they are talking about something totally different: ratio-changing and self-steering systems. So far only Honda used it in Japanese market and BMW used exactly the same system (as an optional feature) everywhere. Lexus also has its own a ratio-changing system, implemented differently. Overall, such systems are rather rare and typically offered as an option. It is not correct to say that anyone "switched" to anything like that.

Bleh (3, Insightful)

m.dillon (147925) | about 2 months ago | (#47130491)

Sounds idiotic to me. Non-linear steering is great, but any sort of dynamic/adaptive steering that changes according to conditions is stupid beyond belief and will cause an endless stream of accidents because the driver can no longer predict how the car will react to similar steering motions.

-Matt

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130641)

It depends on the settings, I guess they won't make it feel too different.
What scares me about these newfangled post-1970 cars and their hydraulic/electronic steering is that once you are out of the parameters that the system can handle, your docile and agile beast becomes one ugly 2 tons coffin that you can't take back into control. I'd rather keep a lighter thing that skids at 25mph if you are not careful, but that behaves linearly. Plus, new car exhaust sounds are ugly!

Re:Bleh (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 2 months ago | (#47130655)

Sounds idiotic to me. Non-linear steering is great, but any sort of dynamic/adaptive steering that changes according to conditions is stupid beyond belief and will cause an endless stream of accidents because the driver can no longer predict how the car will react to similar steering motions.

-Matt

Wow, that's great insight. Glad you're around to lend your experience to those idiots at BMW and Mercedes, who clearly haven't thought of this when deploying the technology.

Re:Bleh (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 2 months ago | (#47130729)

I will stick with the very direct steering input of my motorcycles.

Re:Bleh (2)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 2 months ago | (#47130897)

Firstly, BMW cars with AS systems in them have notoriously bad steering feel. Secondly, BMW has abandoned AS in favor of ordinary electric boosters. So, it looks like at least someone at BMW decided that this tech is not gonna fly.

Re:Bleh (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 months ago | (#47131573)

Sounds idiotic to me. Non-linear steering is great, but any sort of dynamic/adaptive steering that changes according to conditions is stupid beyond belief and will cause an endless stream of accidents because the driver can no longer predict how the car will react to similar steering motions.

-Matt

Wow, that's great insight. Glad you're around to lend your experience to those idiots at BMW and Mercedes, who clearly haven't thought of this when deploying the technology.

Do you find it difficult to look at your Samsung Gear smart watch when wearing the 3D glasses for your TV? Oh, and what's your wifi SSID? I thought it was "COOLBOX" but that's just your smart fridge.

HINT: Companies pursue and push out tons of tech and features that are shit.

Re:Bleh (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 2 months ago | (#47130691)

I loved it, felt like manual rack and pinion at high speed, felt similar to hydraulic power steering at low speed but far smoother. Humans are dynamic/adaptive creatures, and it doesn't feel any different at different speeds--if you didn't know it was an adaptive electronic system, you'd have no clue. Congrats Ford on catching up to what Honda was doing a decade and half ago.

Re:Bleh (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 2 months ago | (#47130753)

The steering itself is not adaptive. Only the feel from the steering wheel is adaptive. You will have less power assist at higher speeds. Manufacturers have been doing this with hydraulic power steering for a long time.

Re:Bleh (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 months ago | (#47132017)

"Sounds idiotic to me. Non-linear steering is great, but any sort of dynamic/adaptive steering that changes according to conditions is stupid beyond belief and will cause an endless stream of accidents because the driver can no longer predict how the car will react to similar steering motions."

Only for companies that are unable to create a working ignition switch.

No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130557)

I like my car as is. 16 years old and still going strong. And of course not an American car. You'd have to be insane to buy an American car. American made = junk.

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130607)

You'd have to be a douchebag for judging the mental state of people based simply on the automobile they drive(or the country it was made in for that matter).

Besides you're probably driving a walkmobile anyways. You know a car that makes your friends go, nah man I'd rather walk than be seen in your piece of shit hooptie ride.

Old tech for Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47130599)

My 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII had this type of steering system. Not exactly new tech.

Considering the recent recalls... (2)

cjjjer (530715) | about 2 months ago | (#47130713)

Ford recall affects Ford Escape and Mercury models from 2008 through 2011 model years and some 2011-2013 Ford Explorer models. The Ford recall was made due to issues with electric power steering systems.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/In-Gear/2014/0530/Ford-recall-includes-914-000-Escape-Explorer-SUVs-with-power-steering-issue [csmonitor.com]

Really Ford?

I have a ford (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47130801)

I have a ford with adaptive steering... You can barely tell its there. The basic goal is to give you lots of help while the car is stationary or moving slow... but make it harder to jerk the wheel when doing 80. Back in the 80s they way over did power steering so you had basically no road feel at all and if someone even bumped the wheel while you were on the freeway it could send you into a spin or cause you to roll. So they cut back on the amount of "help" power steering provided.

But my truck was recalled yesterday because faults in the system could cause power steering to fail and lead to an accident. They've had 7 confirmed accidents due to this out of some 800,000 vehicles sold.

Ironic this story pops up a day after a recall for the very feature being advertised. lol

Re:I have a ford (4, Informative)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 2 months ago | (#47131393)

No, you don't have "a Ford with adaptive steering". No Ford was ever made with the feature in question. Ford is just thinking about introducing it. You have a Ford with variable amount of steering boost. This has been around forever, even in hydraulic systems. But this is not adaptive steering discussed here. Adaptive steering requires variable steering ratio. Your Ford does not have variable steering ratio.

Re:I have a ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131467)

well i like FORD they always have new ideas .. maybe many ppl have other opinion on that subject but it's really great company
please visit my website for free sharing servers http://www.dz-sat.com/

Friends don't let friends drive Fords.... (0)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 2 months ago | (#47130825)

I'll be excited about this when a company besides Ford does it. Yeah, I admit it; I am biased. I put aside said bias and bought a used Taurus once. It's transmission promptly died on me.

Re:Friends don't let friends drive Fords.... (2)

afidel (530433) | about 2 months ago | (#47131171)

And I had 4 Taurus/Sables that I bought used and drove to over 225k miles each, so long as you got the Duratec 3.0 those cars were bulletproof. The only reason I went away from them is that I wanted AWD and better gas mileage.

First introduced by Honda (2)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 2 months ago | (#47130827)

This system was first introduced by Honda in the their JDM S2000. It was later copied by BMW as their "Active Steering" system and offered in USA in 5-series and 3-series cars. Note that such systems effectively break the solid link between the steering wheel and the steering rack. There were a number of reports of Active Steering failures in 3-series BMW E9x cars. BMW abandoned the system for in new 3-series, replacing of with ordinary electric booster without ratio-changing ability.

Re:First introduced by Honda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132159)

Since you seem more informed than many on this thread, do you know how a variable ratio really behaves?

If I turn the steering wheel to a certain angle at speed and then brake down to a low speed, does the rack keep moving, effectively changing my turning radius with no change in steering wheel angle? Would I effectively drive down a spiral path as I slowed to a stop? This seems bizarre, but I see no other way to preserve basic details such as there being a dead center steering wheel position that puts the rack dead center no matter what kind of driving I've been doing...

And what about things like counter-steering in a skid? How are you supposed to do that if the angle of the rack can change relative to the angle of the steering wheel?

More susceptible to SW/electrical falures (1)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 2 months ago | (#47130999)

Despite the fact that such systems break the sold mechanical link between the steering wheel and the steering rack, they are normally rather well protected from mechanical failures. At least Honda's and BMW's systems will normally "fuse" steering shaft in case of any mechanical component disintegration, restoring the classic solid steering link. However, such systems are very susceptible to software failures and simple electrical failures (like water getting into electronics), when the systems "gets a mind of its own" and begins to steer the car overriding driver's input. There is an epic thread on e90post (now sanitized) about consequences of such failure in a E92 car http://www.e90post.com/forums/... [e90post.com]

I dislike electric power steering (2)

sinij (911942) | about 2 months ago | (#47131023)

As a car guy, I prefer hydraulic power steering. Electric implementations so far leave you too isolated from the road (both input and output, or feedback are important when handling car). It is also unclear how these new systems will age or if they will fail gracefully.

Re:I dislike electric power steering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132047)

I generally agree but the RX8's steering is fabulous.

Re: I dislike electric power steering (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 2 months ago | (#47132235)

I've had a couple of cars suffer hydraulic power steering failures in rather inconvenient far out locations. I don't know how reliable electric power steering is, but the competition has set the bar rather low.

Too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131081)

They are behind the times. This was done about 20 years ago and was called "Driver assisted stearing".

I absolutely hated it. I got use to apply a specific amount of preasure on a wheel as I went around a mountain road, then the car decided to add or subtract to that required preasure, and as a result I either over corrected or under corrected. Damn near got into a couple of wrecks.

Ford is bringing it to the masses? (1)

John Nemesh (3244653) | about 2 months ago | (#47131247)

Huh, I just bought a 2014 Kia Soul this weekend with this very feature. Ford is a day late and a dollar (or $5000) short.

No thanks (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47131399)

Does anyone sell a real car anymore, and not a rolling computer? If not, sounds like there is a market ripe for the picking.

Re:Does anyone sell a real car anymore (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 2 months ago | (#47131877)

Well, there are plenty of kit cars [caterhamcars.com] you can buy that are quite primitive, but they seem to cost much more than a conventional mass produced car.

Re:Does anyone sell a real car anymore (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47132049)

Sure, you could build something 100% from scratch and even skip the 'kits', or just buy an older car that was pre-perversion in age, but i was thinking along the lines of a current day mass produced vehicle.

I have not seen one, but that didn't mean it does not exist.

$5 (1, Insightful)

sehlat (180760) | about 2 months ago | (#47131401)

Where is Ford going to save the five dollars THIS time?

Anybody remember the original Pinto, also remembered as a molotov cocktail if struck from the rear? Ford was warned by their engineers that in such collisions, some of the drivers would end up burned alive. Cost to fix: $5 per vehicle. Ford chose the cheaper alternative of paying off lawsuits, without making a serious dent in the Pinto's bottom line.

So I ask again, where will they save money to kill their customers THIS time?

Re:$5 (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47131731)

Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
Narrator: You wouldn't believe.
Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?
Narrator: A major one.

Re:$5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47131753)

Where is Ford going to save the five dollars THIS time?

Anybody remember the original Pinto, also remembered as a molotov cocktail if struck from the rear? Ford was warned by their engineers that in such collisions, some of the drivers would end up burned alive. Cost to fix: $5 per vehicle. Ford chose the cheaper alternative of paying off lawsuits, without making a serious dent in the Pinto's bottom line.

So I ask again, where will they save money to kill their customers THIS time?

No, I don't remember the Pinto. It was way before my time.

I don't find the logic of comparing the Pinto too today's ford.

If you really want to look bring up dirt about the past, perhaps you should look at German automakers during WWII.

Power everything! (1)

Drunkulus (920976) | about 2 months ago | (#47131707)

Excellent. We'll remove any physical effort required to drive a car, and the entire country will gain weight as a result. Now we have a huge market for exercise machines.

Re:Power everything! (1)

feufeu (1109929) | about 2 months ago | (#47131829)

If you depend on driving a car to stay in shape either you are a professional rallye driver or the guy who spends endless time delivering stuff with a crappy old truck on winding backcountry roads. For the rest of us it won't make much of a difference IMHO...

Re:Power everything! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132193)

Power steering is just one example.
"modern technology has made us two thirds less active than we were.
45 minutes on the treadmill or evening class in Pilates does not make up for the huge change in lifestyle over the last 50 years.
One of the reasons is our lifestyles involve much less physical activity than they used to thanks to cars, washing machines, dishwashers, supermarkets and the internet.
People are forced to make a more concerted effort to fit exercise into their lives by joining a gym, going to exercise classes or using fitness videos at home. "

Labor saving devices and obesity [thefreelibrary.com]

 

Ford bringing this to the masses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47132015)

... about ten years after every small car in Europe. Again. Well done Ford!

Ugh, no thanks (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 2 months ago | (#47132565)

I like my car interfaces the same way I like my computer interfaces: just do exactly what the fuck I tell it to.

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