Assisted & AD Enablers, Innovation, New Mobility November 11, 2021

Enabling Safer, More Durable & Reliable Driving for Shared, Autonomous & Electric Vehicles

The automotive industry is well on its way to an automated, shared and electrified future.

Drivers today benefit from advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in their new vehicles, and we already see fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) carrying out specific tasks such as last-mile delivery services and people shuttles – and this is only the start.

As technology improves safety, durability and reliability, shared AVs will progress beyond their current role as geo-fenced, low speed, neighborhood vehicles and into the mainstream – thus carrying heavier loads at higher vehicle speeds and needing to meet higher safety and durability requirements.

To support the shared, electric and automated future of vehicles like people movers, our team at Nexteer focuses on advanced steering systems that will enable broader applications. In particular, our CES Innovation Award-winning Automated Steering Actuator provides a high availability, high output and high durability solution for more capable shared AVs – including those without a steering wheel or driver.

Ensuring the Safety Net is Always On – Even Without a Driver or Steering Wheel

As the automotive industry adopts increasing levels of autonomy, human interaction with the steering system will be reduced, and eventually eliminated, along with the steering wheel itself.

Nexteer’s Automated Steering Actuator leverages our Steer-by-Wire (SbW) architecture so there is no mechanical connection between the handwheel and road wheels. This enables the steering to be controlled by software, algorithms, electronics and actuators.

In return, this enables our innovative Automated Steering Actuator to guarantee safety through layers of “high availability” coverage – through electrical hardware (sensors and controllers), software, mechanical and sealing redundancies. These redundancies ensure that a steering safety net is always ON – especially when there is no driver as a mechanical backup.

Enhancing Durability & Reliability for Heavier Vehicles with Increased Drive Time

Our Automated Steering Actuator also supports the increased durability and reliability performance needed for shared autonomous vehicles because of their heavier vehicle weights, higher rack forces, and increased hours and miles on the road.

Because of the increased weight of electric vehicles, our Automated Steering Actuator solution leverages and expands Nexteer’s High-Output Steering – including high-output motor technologies and high-output mechanical assist mechanisms – to handle the increased load of up to 24kN rack loads. This is a 100-140% increase over the current vehicles/systems on the last-mile market. This is critical to support the increasing vehicle weights and rack forces of battery electric shared AVs.

In addition, high durability is achieved because our Automated Steering Actuator is designed for serviceability, while providing augmented unit economics with its increased robustness. It is capable of a targeted 300,000-mile life expectancy, durability and validation – which doubles the current life of Electric Power Steering systems on the road today.

Overall, our Automated Steering Actuator is a “game changer” because it offers a single steering solution that solves challenges for electric, shared and autonomous people mover vehicles – thus providing a critical piece in the complex megatrend puzzle that brings together Electrification, Mobility-as-a-Service and Autonomy.

Steven Harris
Steven Harris is Nexteer’s Vice President of Global Engineering. He is responsible for global product and manufacturing engineering activities, implementing the product portfolio and production support.