Steering the aftermarket

The future of electric steering systems

Electric Power Steering

Published:  30 July, 2014

TRW offers both new and remanufactured steering & suspension system parts to the aftermarket, plus a range of shock absorbers that with the smallest number of parts provides one of the largest levels of coverage. The business has been remanufacturing steering systems for 25 years and supplies power steering gears and pumps from its dedicated facilities in Wrexham and the Czech Republic to major VMs such as Audi, BMW, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Opel, Peugeot and Renault.

Programmable functions regulate steering feel

But what about the technologies that lie behind the parts? In addition to offering a 'Green' power-steering solution compared to conventional steering systems, EPS is a key building block for providing a number of vehicle safety features - both in terms of working together with other active systems such as driver assist systems or electronic stability control, and its ability to include new features to mitigate vehicle 'error-states'.

"One of the beauties of electric steering is that these functions are controlled through software - and can be programmed quickly to allow for the desired outcome. For example, the amount of power steering assist can easily be varied - full assist at slower speeds for tight turning manoeuvres such as parking, or a stiffer, sportier response at high speeds such as highway driving, and these modes could be chosen by the driver. Likewise, the electric steering system can be programmed to intelligently respond to varying vehicle and environmental conditions - such as different tire types, payloads, or road- surfaces."

What lies ahead

Using electronic control algorithms, TRW works in close collaboration with its customers to develop and implement several advanced steering functions - a number of which are in production or due to go into production in the next two to three years. These fall into two functions - driver assist and safety.

He added:" Electric steering plays a significant role in TRW's Driver Assist Systems technology roadmap, as it represents the one system in the vehicle that has a permanent connection with the driver, continuously translates the driver's directional commands, and directly provides feedback from the vehicle's tires to the driver's hands. As such, TRW's driver assist functions can help the driver in unpleasant, but necessary, steering tasks such as when mitigating road and environmental conditions, as well as to support parking manoeuvres.

Safety functions are those that can detect and react to hazardous conditions, like slippery or icy road surfaces and torque feedback that infers a driver's drowsiness or inattention. When coupled with sensors, surrounding or approaching vehicles can be detected, enabling the system to warn drivers of dangerous conditions.

"Electric steering safety enhancements are achievable through integration with other systems," Kevin continued. "For example, Driver Steer Recommendation functionality can be delivered through the integration of EPS and ESC to help correct situations such as oversteer in hard cornering or when encountering a slippery surface on one side of the vehicle and dry pavement on the other. Tests have shown up to an 8% reduction in stopping distance.

"When combined with driver assist technologies such as camera-based systems, electric power steering can help assist the driver in staying in the intended lane by providing a torque through the steering wheel that guides the driver back toward the centre of the lane. A full lane guide system can actively assist in keeping the vehicle in the centre of the lane."

Looking forward, TRW predicts significant adoption of its EPS technologies for non-premium mainstream vehicle platforms thanks to its performance, price, packaging - and of course, fuel efficiency - advantages over conventional steering technologies. TRW has ongoing programmes to continuously enhance and develop advanced driver interaction functions to both improve driver safety and offer more customer choice.

Find out more

Phone: 01978 667 800

www.trwaftermarket.com

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