Premiere for the flexibly adjustable steer-by-wire steering system
David Schumacher and Carrie Schreiner test a steer-by-wire steering system that can be parameterized while driving for the first time as part of the GTC Race season finale at the Hockenheimring. Track meets street: Other road technology vehicles bring various steer-by-wire applications to life.
Flexible steering angle depending on cornering conditions
Adaptation from race car to road in line with the "from track to road" development approach
Advantages for road use already clearly visible
Pfronstetten-Aichelau/ Hockenheim. Cranking the steering wheel is a pain in the ass, whether you're parking, making a hairpin turn on an Alpine pass, or even on the race track. And this is precisely where a steer-by-wire steering system can show off its advantages to the full. With an electronic steering system, the steering angles can be flexibly selected and in the future can even be adjusted depending on the speed. This means that the steering ratio can be adapted to the curve when the steering angle is large. This means that the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel or cross his arms when passing the hairpin bend at the Hockenheimring, for example.
"Testing the parameterizable steering now at the end of the season on the race track is an important milestone for our development," says Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, who developed the world's only road-legal drive-by-wire system Space Drive from the field of mobility for the disabled and is himself an active Space Drive development driver. "The GTC Race platform is an ideal development environment for testing. Here we can accelerate the development of innovative technologies, be it new components for autonomous driving or alternative drive systems."
Initial tests with the parameterizable steering system took place during the GTC Race at the Hockenheimring. David Schuhmacher and Carrie Schreiner tested the parameterizable steering system for the first time in both a race car and a road vehicle. This is an important step in the further development of the innovative steer-by-wire system, which has been used in the GTC Race since 2019 and in the DTM since 2021 and does not require a mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear.
"There are always two components installed in the system, a feedback unit that generates the feeling on the steering wheel and the steering actuator that moves the wheels. All the parameters that control these two components can be changed individually while driving," says Alexander Uphoff, Head of System Development at Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co.KG. "In racing, there are many tight turns where drivers still have to grip around or where a certain speed is important when steering. This creates more stress for the driver and more work on the steering wheel. Here we have achieved a significant improvement!"
Testing the parameterizable steering now at the end of the season on the race track is an important milestone for our development.
By changing the steering ratio, the driver can define for himself how far the steering angle, i.e. the relationship between the steering wheel's turn and the steering wheels, can be changed. In the future, it will then also be possible to store speed-dependent steering models that could react in real time to the driver's needs and the nature of the road, depending on the chosen driving purpose.
On the road, the advantages are obvious; for example, when parking, small steering movements can be used to maneuver the car into the space quite comfortably. "In the road vehicle, the advantage is already clearly noticeable. You often have to steer a lot to get the car into the desired position, for example when parking. If you can adjust steering ratio, even a much smaller steering movement is sufficient to produce the desired steering angle. That's a big advantage," reports Space Drive pilot Carrie Schreiner, who has been a steer-by-wire development driver since 2020.
On the race track, you have the advantage that you can maneuver much more agilely and react much faster with the parameterized steering later on. We are at the beginning of development, but I see very great potential here for motorsport as well.
The technology was also tested on the race track, of course. Particularly predestined for this use case at the Hockenheimring is the approach from the parabolica into the hairpin, where drivers often have to steer a lot. "On the race track, you have the advantage that you can maneuver much more agilely and react much faster with the parameterized steering later on. We are at the beginning of development, but I see very great potential here for motorsport as well," says DTM driver David Schumacher, who tested the steering at the Hockenheimring and will take a seat in the Space Drive cockpit this weekend as part of the GTC Race. "Especially in the hairpin, it's great to be able to get the car through the corner very quickly with a small turn-in instead of 180 degrees with one steering movement.
Throughout the race weekend, the Space Drive road technology vehicles with very different steer-by-wire applications will be on display for visitors at the Hockenheimring. Just opposite the Ravenol Tower, visitors can experience the steering technology of the future, from force feedback steering wheels to isometric steering solutions (via pressure impulse) and force feedback joysticks!