Ford already offers electronic power steering, which helps to conserve fuel by using an electric motor to assist the steering instead of a hydraulic system drawing energy from the engine. Now Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] is enhancing its steering system with a new feature called Adaptive Steering.
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Due to be offered on certain Ford vehicles within the next 12 months, the Adaptive Steering system builds on the existing speed-sensitive function of Ford’s electronic power steering system by altering the steering ratio and effort. Many luxury makes offer similar technology, such as Audi with its Dynamic Steering system and BMW with Servotronic, but now Ford is bringing it to the masses.
Ford’s system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel, and requires no change to a vehicle’s traditional steering system. The actuator—an electric motor and gearing system—can essentially add to or subtract from a driver’s steering inputs. This will make vehicles easier to maneuver at low speeds and in tight spaces, as the driver won’t need to turn the steering wheel much to alter the angle of the wheels. At higher speeds, the concept works in reverse, making a vehicle feel more stable as small adjustments to the steering wheel result in less directional change from the wheels.
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Ford says it developed its Adaptive Steering system together with Japanese supplier Takata. It will be available on select Ford vehicles beginning next year.