We hope you didn't think that installing electric power steering and getting rid of the hydraulics was the end of evolution for the traditional tiller. Nissan has just revealed its all-new steer-by-wire technology that does away with the rack and pinion altogether, which will be coming to a new Infiniti model next year.
Nissan's new system has done away with the mechanical link and controls vehicle tire movement via electronic signals. The signals can communicate more quickly than the mechanical link, both relaying the driver's steering input and sending feedback to the steering wheel. Because the feedback is electronically controlled, Nissan has also designed the system to decrease steering kickback from irregularities in the road. Working in tandem with a camera-based system, the steer-by-wire setup can increase straight-line stability by making minute corrections within the lane of travel. Without the mechanical links, it means that each drive wheels can be controlled independently, which could, in turn, lead to more precise handling.
If there is any worry about the reliability of the system, Nissan says not to worry – while the steering may be controlled by the car's ECU, the automaker has utilized multiple ECUs. If one ECU fails, another can take over.
This isn't some far-off future technology either. Nissan promises that we'll see steer-by-wire technology in "select Infiniti models on sale within one year." Expect to see it at least optional (if not standard) on the 2014 Infiniti G and the all-new LE electric car, both of which are slated to debut next year.