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Captain Hybrid

Steer-By-Wire to Reach Production Vehicles

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Contrarian
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Where's the value?
Contrarian   11/29/2012 9:36:17 AM
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I don't get it.  All I see is a riduculously complex and expensive system which the owner has to pay for but adds little or nothing useful to the operation of the vehicle.

In my view, you had redundancy and tactile feedback with a rod that connects to the gear that moves the wheels.  How much more elegant, cost effective and reliable can you get than that?  Seems the weight issue is a materials question, not motors and redundant computers.

 

etmax
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Re: Mechanical Backup
etmax   11/29/2012 9:45:42 AM
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I couldn't agree more.

So let me get this straight, we introduce steer by wire so we can remove the feel of rough roads etc. but we dial in the feel electronically because that wouldn't be good for the driver, and were saving weight even though we added 3 ECU's AND a clutch to re-engage the traditional steering column if all 3 ECU's die (which will happen every time an alternator dies)

I think some engineers in the automotive industry have lost the plot, They're putting complexity in for the sake of it.

TommyH
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Re: Where's the value?
TommyH   11/29/2012 9:47:15 AM
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I agree with all the comments.  I asume the clutch  will be run electrically, so a massive power failure may be an issue as well.  I like my mechanical steering.

Doug Seim
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Iron
Improvements that aren't
Doug Seim   11/29/2012 9:47:24 AM
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First we hear of throttle by wire systems that won't allow heel and toe downshifts and now steering systems that isolate direct steering effort feedback and recreate a subset of the available feel.  Its clear during my commute that there are many people that are absolutely ready for the driverless car (cell phone in one hand, cigarrette in the other, what's on the steering wheel?) but for those of who find joy in driving there are dark times coming. 

RBedell
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Gold
Re: Mechanical Backup
RBedell   11/29/2012 10:15:40 AM
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The basic function of a vehicle is stop/go/turn.  That's it!  Everything else is bells and whistles.  At 60 mph, two things I don't want failing; stop and turn.  Survivability goes way down if those systems fail.  'Go' is a snug third.  I had a Ford Escort and going through an intersection; there were dips on each side of the intersection as you crossed the intersecting road.  The engine stopped running after going through the second dip.  I was able to steer to the side of the road and stop; parking legally.  The problem was traced to a pin in a connector; the pin broke off at the wire crimp.  The whole incident was minor.  But if the steering or brakes had been lost things could have been much worse. The car I have now is 'go'-by-wire.  The jury is still out on that one but it appears to be hung at the moment.

The steer-by-wire might have a niche market such as applications where a steering wheel is difficult or impractical (example, handicap).  When I read these announcements, I pause and give thought what they are saying.  Example: Nissan states that '... the advantages are ...'.  But they never mention the disadvantages.  There are always disadvantages.  Red flags: '... the clutch is disengaged 999,999 time out of a million.'  If a system is disengaged for that long, what guaranties that it will work when needed?  How will you know if the backup has failed?  Is it ever tested?

The car is not an airplace and its maintanance does not fall under rigorous training and scrutiny.

jfs1970
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Gold
I don't feel safe...
jfs1970   11/29/2012 10:36:55 AM
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I have had nothing but bad experiences with computer control of everything from turn signals, headlights, antilock brakes and smog control systems in my Chryslers.  Why anyone in their right mind would want to drive a car "by wire" is beyond me.  It is just a bunch of "Microsoft moments" (blue screen of death) waiting to happen at the worst possible time.  I prefer my vehicles have the least amount of "points of failure" as possible.

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: I don't feel safe...
tekochip   11/29/2012 10:50:54 AM
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Add me to the "no" list.  I know the system could perform wonderfully, but it could also fail spectacularly.  The hydraulic assisted system in use today still operates, albeit with great effort, in the event of a complete hydraulic failure, and steer by wire would not be capable of that.
 
On most posts this bulletin board leans towards technology at the expense of increased risk.  Autonomous vehicles don't frighten most Design News readers, so I'm a little surprised, and encouraged by the negative response to steering by wire.


RBedell
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Gold
Re: Where's the value?
RBedell   11/29/2012 11:19:32 AM
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I agree, the clutch would be electrical.  But for fail-safe, the clutch would have to be held 'disengaged'.  Meaning if a power fail occured the clutch releases, in theory.  But, this does not cover failures other than power fail.

Critic
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Platinum
Re: I don't feel safe...
Critic   11/29/2012 11:47:35 AM
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Put me on the "no" list, too.

The reasons in the article for switching to steer by wire are:

1. Elimination of mechanical components (what's the advantage of this, other than weight savings?)

2. Weight savings

3. Elimination of vibration from the road surface (no, you will still feel vibrations, and mechanical steering could be dsigned to "eliminate" vibration, too)

4. Minute adjustment of tire angle to compensate for wind and sloped roads (I suspect that the driver will still have to do at least some of this)

5. Enable drivers to feel the road (we can with a mechanical system)(this conflicts with 3, above)

6. Enable auto manufacturers to readily change the design/configuration of cars (e.g. change a left-hand drive car to a right-hand drive car)

There are other motivations for changing to steer by wire.  These may include ease of implementation of driverless cars in the future, or cars that drive themsleves when necessary to avoid accidents, and the desire by manufacturers to add gimmicks that will inrease the prices of cars and increase manufacturers' revenues.

A simple mechanical system, even without power steering, is reliable, simple, and inexpensive.  This is what I want in my car, not a lot of expensive-to-replace-when-it-fails electronics.

JimRW
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Silver
Just another BAD idea
JimRW   11/29/2012 12:52:55 PM
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IMHO this is just another monumentally bad idea from carmakers, who seem to believe today that electronics make everything better. Wrong!

There already exists electric power steering systems in many cars at various price points, but it's for assist only (or for automated parallel parking). The low end cars I've driven with this ( a Saturn Coupe we used to own ) had practically zero steering feel and was miserable to drive. When it failed the steering was way over boosted to one side and not at all to the other, creating a very unsafe situation. BMW, according to a recent Car and Driver article, has produced a system that may be subjectively better than hydraulic assist, but it took years for them to get the algorithms right and they can charge what it costs to get good performance. I can only assume there is a similar failure mode.

Auto designers are forgetting that driving is inherently risky and should not be too comfortable, or too easy, or too much like riding your recliner while playing with your latest electronic gadget. I dread the day I have to replace my '04 RSX, because any new car available by then and in my budget will not be worth driving due to the excess electronic control interfaces.

 

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