Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Steering

Ford's Adaptive Steering system alters the steering ratio based on vehicle speed

While power steering has made it possible to drive around without giving yourself an exhausting upper body workout, the steering ratio of most vehicles – that is, the number of turns of the steering wheel required to turn the front wheels a certain amount – is fixed. Ford is shaking things up for non-luxury car buyers with its new Adaptive Steering system that will be available on select models from next year.  Read More

The Stemlock makes your handlebars temporarily useless

Whether it's bicycles, cars or houses, if thieves really want to get past the lock on something, they can. The trick is to simply not make it worth their while to do so, by adding extra hassles. The Stemlock is just such a hassle. It internally disconnects a bike's handlebar stem from its fork, making it impossible for a thief to steer.  Read More

Variability in steering wheel movement has proven to be a tip-off that drivers are getting...

Driver drowsiness is a major cause of accidents, so it's not surprising that a variety of technologies have been developed for its detection. Most of these systems require the use of prominent hardware such as eye-tracking cameras, reactive testing devices, or even Google Glass. A team from Washington State University Spokane, however, has developed a system that detects drowsy drivers through inexpensive electronics that monitor movement of the steering wheel.  Read More

The Inventioneers present the first working prototype of the SMARTwheel to Secretary of Tr...

Driving safely requires that both hands remain firmly on the steering wheel, but some people find the temptation to use their smartphone at the wheel all too enticing, often resulting in road accidents. To combat this, a group of students has come up with SMARTwheel: an aftermarket steering wheel cover that detects when drivers are engaging in unsafe activities like texting while driving, and provides sonic and visual alerts to refocus their attention.  Read More

The four-wheel independently actuated (FWIA) car (Photo: Junmin Wang, courtesy of Ohio Sta...

As any fan of electric cars will tell you, one of the keys to improving their range is getting their weight down. With that in mind, a team of researchers from Ohio State University are currently developing an EV that they claim weighs half as much as a conventional car. Because it’s so light, handling is definitely an issue – that’s why each of its wheels is independently controlled, and contains its own motor and battery pack.  Read More

The Infiniti Q50 sedan

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.  Read More

The BMW M Performance steering wheel in ECO mode

Taking a BMW M series car out on the track is an occasion for daydreaming that you're Michael Schumacher at the wheel of a Formula 1 racer. Unfortunately, the average BMW doesn’t come with a US$50,000 F1 steering wheel, making the illusion that bit harder to maintain. To help rectify this, BMW is offering a steering wheel with a touch of the racetrack as part of its M Performance accessories catalog.  Read More

TRW Automotive is developing a folding, retractable steering wheel, that would make it eas...

As small, ultra fuel-efficient or electric cars become more popular as urban runabouts, automotive designers are looking for more ways to maximize their interior space. One possibility: get rid of the steering wheel. Of course, you need a steering wheel for driving, but the engineers at Michigan’s TRW Automotive are working on one that folds up and retracts into the dashboard when the vehicle is parked. They claim it would making getting in and out of the car considerably easier, particularly for elderly or disabled drivers.  Read More

German researchers have demonstrated a system that allows a car to be driven by thought co...

Since its formation in 2006, Freie Universität Berlin’s AutoNOMOS team has been researching and developing systems that could someday result in driverless, autonomous cars. Previously, they have successfully used an iPhone, an iPad, and an eye-tracking device to maneuver their Volkswagen Passat MadeInGermany test car. Now, using a commercially-available Emotiv EPOC brain-machine gaming interface, they have demonstrated that the car can be controlled by mind power.  Read More

Ford's new Curve Control system automatically slows vehicles down when they're entering a ...

We’ve all done it – swung too fast onto a freeway ramp and then suddenly had to yank on the steering wheel for control of the vehicle. It’s not fun, and reportedly loosing control on a bend accounts for about 50,000 crashes every year in the U.S. alone. That’s why Ford is introducing Curve Control on its 2011 Explorer and on 90 percent of its crossovers, SUVs, trucks and vans by 2015. The system senses when you’re entering a curve too quickly, and automatically slows your speed by up to 10mph in approximately one second.  Read More

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