Ferrari Files Patent for New Steering System
Ferrari is constantly on the forefront of automotive technology and setting the bar for the rest of the car world. For instance, with the Ferrari FF, the Italian automaker wanted a four-wheel-drive system but conventional systems weren’t good enough so its engineers completely reinvented the wheel and came up with their own. Was it necessary? No, probably not, but stagnation is self-abdication. At least that’s what Ferrari would say. Well Ferrari has done it again, at least it’s trying to. To Ferrari, a conventional electric power steering system just isn’t good enough. Even though any enthusiast lucky enough to drive a 458 Speciale would tell you that the steering is nothing short of perfect, Ferrari isn’t satisfied. Ferrari says that due to slack in the steering box and universal joints creating a slight delay between the driver’s input and what the wheels actually do, the wizards in Maranello are developing a software system that compensates for this and creates a more direct and accurate response. It, supposedly, can also compensate for the front suspension geometry differences, from left to right, which can create a miniscule difference in steering response respectively.
Now this is all well and good, but if Ferrari really wanted precise, accurate steering, why not just go back to hydraulic? Aren’t old school Ferraris, Porsches and BMWs world famous for their telepathic steering feel and response? I know, electric power steering is more efficient and with strict fuel-economy regulations, it makes more sense. But, what about no power steering at all? Ferrari’s baby brother, Alfa Romeo, doesn’t use power steering in its new 4C, and people love it.
Thankfully, Ferrari says that this new software tweak is simple and cheap, and the driver will never notice it working, they will only feel great steering. I understand Ferrari’s need to push the envelope but I feel this is just too much. Added software manipulation cannot be good for the already fading steering feel in sports cars nowadays.
Click past the jump to read more about Ferrari’s future steering system.
Why It Matters
Ferrari seems to be the pinnacle of the sports car world, so what Ferrari does, everyone tries to do replicate. And while Ferrari is filing a patent, so others won’t be able to copy this exactly, other companies will attempt something similar. Infiniti already tried something like this with its Steer-by-Wire system, and pretty much everyone hates it. Anytime you put more technology between the steering wheel and the front wheels, steering feel suffers. So if Ferrari can pull it off and the steering turns out to be sharper and faster, then I will eat my words. However, if it turns out to be a case of fixing something until it’s broken, then I get to say I told you so.