Ford have announced that their next generation of steering technology, Adaptive Steering, will be available in European markets from next year.
According to the company, the new technology will improve steering feel at all speeds, making it easier to perform manoeuvres on any Adaptive Steering-equipped vehicle, while also making it easier and more enjoyable to drive, particularly at higher speeds where it’s claimed it will give an increase in both vehicle agility and the fun factor.
“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 manoeuvre and more fun to drive.”
Ford have explained the science behind Adaptive Steering, saying that it uses a small motor to change the ratio between the driver’s actions at the steering wheel and how much the front wheels turn. In traditional vehicles, there is a fixed steering ratio but with Ford’s new Adaptive Steering, the steering ratio continually changes with vehicle speed, optimising the steering response in all conditions.
In layman’s terms, this means that vehicles can be steered more quickly, accurately and with more ease and less turns of the wheel than is possible with regular power steering. A video released by the company shows the difference that the new technology can make, with considerably less effort needed to guide the car through a slalom and a much smoother driving experience as result.
At lower speeds, such as when pulling into a parking space or manoeuvring in tight quarters, the new system makes the vehicle more agile and easier to turn, as it dials more steering into the road wheel and each low-speed manoeuvre requires less turning of the steering wheel, which could improve the experience of drivers who find it hard to park their cars in tight spaces.
Optimise Steering Response
Likewise, while travelling at motorway speeds, the system further optimises steering response, enabling the vehicle to react more smoothly and precisely to driver input to make the journey more enjoyable.
Ford’s new system uses a small, precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel which requires no change to a vehicle’s traditional steering system. The actuator, which is a small 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.
The system was developed for production by Ford in collaboration with Japanese company Takata, a leading supplier of automotive steering and safety systems and will be available on a range of selected vehicles beginning early next year including the new Edge SUV and the second-generation S-Max.