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2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan features drive-by-wire steering

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January 15, 2013

The Infiniti Q50 sedan

The Infiniti Q50 sedan

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Fly-by-wire systems are the sort of thing we associate with aircraft and space shuttles, but they’re now moving into the automotive world. This week at a press conference at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Infiniti unveiled its Q50 luxury sports sedan. Based on the Infiniti Essence concept, this is the first production car to feature drive-by-wire steering instead of conventional mechanical and hydraulic linkages.

The Q50 is the centerpiece of the Infiniti display and the company’s big gun against BMW’s 3 series. Its styling is quite sleek for a four-door. It has a nice balance fore and aft without feeling boxy, and the bonnet has a sports car echo about it, though there is that slightly heavy feel that plagues so many luxury cars. Meanwhile, the interior boasts a well-defined driver’s area and 8-inch touchscreen to control the car’s infotainment system.

The Infiniti Q50 sedan interior

The Q50 comes with a choice of a conventional or hybrid drive train. The conventional engine is a 328 bhp (244 kW) 3.7-liter V6 with 269 ft lb (365 Nm) of torque while the Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid System has a 3.5-liter 354 bhp (264 kW) V6 with lithium-ion batteries, electric motor and two clutches. Both come with a 7-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode and the option of a rear-wheel drive or Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. Currently, there is no word on performance.

Infiniti Direct Adaptive Steering technology is Infiniti's drive-by-wire system that replaces mechanical linkages with digital controls. These not only simplify the design of the car, but also allow for a degree of customization with four different steering settings based on the driver’s preference. Also, according to Infiniti, the system provides superior handling by “transmitting the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system.”

No price was announced, but the Q50 goes on sale in the United States and Canada this summer and will soon be available in other world markets. The NAIAS runs from January 14th through the 27th at Detroit's Cobo Center.

Source: Infiniti via Popular Science

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
13 Comments

So if you get a flat battery you can't turn the front wheels? Call me old fashioned, but....

Ozuzi
15th January, 2013 @ 03:54 pm PST

It shocks me, the US government is going to allow Steering by Wire? I agree with Ozuzi, I figured some sort of mechanical and hydraulic linkages would be present... But I suppose this makes it simplier, but what happens when things go wrong?

A couple of years ago, there was this Corvette Z06 came through the dealership. Had a fulty APP (acclerator pedal position sensor). The cool thing was, it used 2 voltage references, a 2.5 and 5v reference. They were out of sync, wound up being a speck of corossion on a pin to the PCM (powertrain control module) causing intermittent contact. Maybe they have something similar....? The whole drive by wire thing is cool though, amazing how fast computers are these days! :-)

Adam Ackels
15th January, 2013 @ 07:51 pm PST

Ozuzi, after you jump start the car it goes through a relearn procedure like all of the modern throttle by wire cars at every engine shutdown 1996 and 1997 VAG cars had to be told to do it, now days they do all by themselves, though I worry about steering feedback

Bill Bennett
15th January, 2013 @ 08:57 pm PST

Steering system faults aside...

The claim: “transmitting the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system.”

It may be true but it is marketing spin. Is it true ?? (Who knows)

The "Drivers intention" is transmitted through the steering system at the speed of sound in the components (plus any slop in the system)..... (Just how fast can you turn the steering wheel. or respond to anything.)

SOS in steel ~ 6000 m/s

Ok Light speed through an electric wire (forgetting the delays caused by the electronics in-line) 300 000 000 m/s it is a bit more...

3 metres of wire versus 3 metres of steel..

Time through the steel = 0.4 miliseconds (that is pretty fast) Much faster than any himan response time..

Time for electricity to flow through the wire = 10 nanoseconds

However if there is half a millisecond processing delay, the steel beats the fly-by-wire....

Will you note the difference...

Obvious benefits with a fly by wire system is that the feedback can be adjusted, the response can easily be varied the control algorithm can be tweaked and updated.. The benefits do outweigh the downsides (spin

notwithstanding) Until this non-redundant critical system fails.... I would think that the Law in many countries will require either at least double redundancy in the electronics, or a redundant mechanical system so that when it fails it fails in a safe mode. (Most countries design rules will state that a mechanical steering connection must be maintained, as happens in all power assisted steering to this point)

have a nice day.

MD
15th January, 2013 @ 10:50 pm PST

“transmitting the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system.”

Really?

The drive-by-wire is eventually going to have to transmit its own intentions to the wheels by a mechanical system, isn't it?

Clearly whoever originally wrote this has never driven a decently set-up motor - say, a Mk I Escort or real Mini-Cooper with a fast rack!

Catweazle
16th January, 2013 @ 05:27 am PST

Crazy! No sane person would get into a car with drive by wire. Cars can't afford triple redundancy or have enforced maintenance like planes can. There can be no doubt this will murder people. Nissan is going to go bankrupt after the first $billion lawsuit they lose. Juries are going to hate the idea of no mechanical backup. A legal nightmare in the making. Hasn't anyone learned from Toyota's mistake?

Rigby5
16th January, 2013 @ 08:32 am PST

I think that this is BS. I have not seen this anywhere else. This is the fourth article that I have read on this car and nowhere else was this mentioned. If Infinity has chosen to add this "feature" to the stupidly named Q50 (what was wrong with G37?) then they have lost my faith in them as a manufacturer. I mechanical system is the only way to go with a system as critical as steering. Besides, as MD points out the likelyhood that the driver would notice a benifit is minimal. If that is the case then why invest in such a trivial "upgrade"?

Element6
16th January, 2013 @ 08:33 am PST

@ Element6:

why invest in such a trivial "upgrade"?

The only reason I can see is to eliminate the traditional mechanical shafts and u-joints that now have to pass through an increasingly crowded engine compartment, and their additional weight.

Whether that is sufficient reason to risk this tech is questionable...

David Bell
16th January, 2013 @ 10:31 am PST

For all those who may be wondering, here is q text from an article explaining their drive by wire system....

"What they said: Infiniti says it believes its new drive-by-wire system will eventually be an industry standard. A spokesman said the system has several fail-safe modes, along with a mechanical steering connection that engages should all three of the Q50’s steering-control modules fail. Technophobes, fear not."

Q50 vs Lexus IS350?? Q50 seems more refined and probably the best choice.

q50beast
16th January, 2013 @ 04:53 pm PST

Has anybody else had a battery die while you are driving the car

Ozuzi
16th January, 2013 @ 06:06 pm PST

At least it has a mechanical backup.

Imagine the day when a vehicle has everything by wire, the car is a decade old, the alternator and battery are on their last ergs, you're tooling down the Pickle Parkway in Texas at 85 MPH and the alternator zaps its last gasp, soon after the battery dies.

You're now not in control of an unguided missile. No amount of electrical redundancy (without mechanical or hydraulic backup) can save your butt if there's no source of electricity.

Oh, and the airbags aren't going off when you slam into whatever the car is going to hit. They need electricity to fire their charges.

I suppose the "fix" for that will be "smart" alternators and batteries programmed to not allow the car to move once they reach a certain age or "self diagnose" that they're about to fail.

From the advent of hydraulic brakes until 1954 Hudson had a mechanical backup on the rear brakes. If the hydraulics failed the mechanical system pulled on the parking brake cables. The system works, even on Hudsons that have sat unused for 60+ years.

Gregg Eshelman
16th January, 2013 @ 09:14 pm PST

nyet, nyet can call me old fashion luddite, I ain't going to pilot a car if it hasn't got a real mechanical linkage.

if its drive by wire then why not just have a joy stick? Just like James Bond where he piloted the Bimmer from the rear seat by commanding a piece of remote no bigger than the face plate of a modern day car stereo.

A plane is a lot more expensive so they can afford more redundant backup system.

Jimbo Jim
16th January, 2013 @ 10:04 pm PST

I don't like fly by wire in airplanes an Airbus crashed because the fly by wire system averaged the three control inputs rather than discard the inputs from the panicked copilot that was the opposite of the inputs from the command pilot and other copilot.

Slowburn
17th January, 2013 @ 08:33 am PST
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