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Ford offering adaptive steering on Super Duty and Edge

Ford is offering adaptive steering on the Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup and Ford Edge SUV. Ford has been awarded eight patents, with 11 more filed, on the technology which has been offered in select vehicles for several years. (Earlier post.)

Despite the industry shift to electrically assisted steering, an overwhelming majority of new vehicles sold today have fixed steering gear ratios. Fixed steering ratios are always a compromise between providing steering quickness and maneuverability at low speeds, while offering comfortable vehicle response at high speeds.

Class-exclusive adaptive steering for the all-new Super Duty and Edge removes these compromises and reduces driver fatigue—especially at low speeds.

The system—all contained in the steering wheel itself—has an electric motor, a small computer and a gear unit. Based on driver input and vehicle speed, adaptive steering can add or subtract rotations to driver input at the steering wheel. Up to one full revolution can be saved at low speeds when steering lock-to-lock.

At low speeds, the system increases the angle of the front wheels as the steering wheel is turned—resulting in the driver needing to steer less to maneuver, explains Lodewijk Wijffels, Ford adaptive steering technical specialist.

At high speeds, the ratio is changed in such a way that vehicle response is more relaxed, more precise, and smoother than without the system, he said.

Adaptive steering contributes to delivering the best ride and steering of any Super Duty ever, with improved responsiveness and control. The truck features a specific setting for engaging tow/haul mode that further optimizes how Super Duty and trailer react to steering input.

Adaptive steering made its debut on the 2016 Ford Edge Sport, which has driver-selectable normal and sport settings. Adaptive steering is optional on the 2016 Ford Edge Titanium.



Interesting. The further democratization of adaptive features.

Here's another interesting thing. Actively controlled steering systems are required to meet the process and quality control requirements of ASIL-D. That means probability of failure is required to be very low, of course, but moreover it means that the traceability, partioning, and validation standards for software must be certified under ISO26262 (ASIL-D is like aircraft systems meeting DO-178B level B). And of course the integrity of the system integrator's processes must be certified by an organization approved by the ISO, like TUV SUD.

You can't issue hardware to the street that hasn't done all this and call it "beta". This is one of the key reasons why active assist technology takes time to find its way to less expensive platforms.

Yup: you can't inroduce the feature and tell all your customers "it's beta, so be careful out there." No, you're not supposed to be doing that with stuff that could kill people.

That's all part of using the term "Auto-" something in a system your customers assume will keep them in the lane or brake for obstacles or that sort of thing. I would think anybody that sold that sort of thing to the street and called it "beta" and said, "you're on your own -- share plenty of youtubes now, ya hear?" would be negligent. But that's my strong belief in industry standards speaking. I'm quite the luddite. (A lot of people who've spent part of their careers in life-critical systems are backwards like that.)

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