Depending on vehicle speed, the system adjusts the ration between the angle of the steering wheel and the steering angle of the front wheels. In today's cars, this ratio is fixed; the mechanical implementation of the steering ratio is determined by the design of the car and cannot be altered. In contrast, adaptive steering provides a variable steering ratio - it continuously is adapted to the vehicle's speed and thus optimises the steering behaviour in all driving situations. In addition, adaptive steering will offer significantly better comfort and increase the fun of driving, Ford said.
The adaptive steering system is placed entirely inside the steering wheel. It utilises an actuator that translates the instructions from the steering computer into mechanical movement and is part of the control chain. At low and very low speed, for instance when parking the vehicle, the system adjusts the steering ratio and the driver does not need to turn the wheel so much. At higher speeds the system selects a more indirect steering ratio, translating into a precise directional stability.
The system has been developed by Ford along with Japanese automotive supplier Takata. The system will become available in series vehicles from beginning of 2015.