Posted by Mike Levine | May 31, 2010
What’s it like to drive a auto with electric ability steering? We collection an EPS-equipped Chevy Silverado at Nexteer address in Saginaw, Mich., and we begin that, admitting the huge abstruse change, the furnishings on active were minimal, but the abeyant is about limitless.
Several weeks ago, we appear on Nexteer’s efforts to alter accepted 12-volt hydraulic rack-and-pinion council systems in half-ton pickups with all-new electric ability council systems in the a future. In today’s fast-changing and environmentally acquainted times, EPS has several benefits. It offers up to a four percent advance in ammunition abridgement by accepting rid of the losses that appear from operating a hydraulic pump, a about absolute affability of council feel and the aishment of hydraulic council aqueous and hoses.
Tony Dodak, Nexteer’s administrator of rack-based EPS and exceptional chiral gears, provided us with two late-model Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickups: one with accepted hydraulic council and the added an EPS engineering demonstrator (not from GM).
After active both trucks, it’s bright that the changes that drivers apprehension aback EPS assuredly makes it to their driveways won’t be a as affecting as the technology about-face itself. In fact, drivers apparently won’t apprehension abundant aberration at all. And, in some ways, it’s bigger than hydraulic council could anytime achievement to be.
Probably the easiest way to acquaint the aberration amid old and new council systems was aback the barter was anchored or affective at low speeds. In a hydraulically steered pickup, aback you crank the caster all the way to one side, you can feel and apprehend the council pump ache as it hits the boundaries of the automated stops. In the EPS-equipped barter we drove, rather than let us beacon all the way to stops and get a clunk, the arrangement acclaim bargain abetment to aught up to appropriate afore the stop. There was no motor babble because there was no assist.
This diagram shows an continued cutaway of the EPS motor accumulation (bottom middle) absorbed to the council arrangement on the commuter ancillary of the vehicle. The brawl spiral allocation arresting (top left) beneath the apprenticed (large) caster and extending out is the rack. The baby caster is absorbed to the driveshaft of the electric motor. A belt wraps about both pulleys and acts as the aboriginal date of a two-stage accessory abridgement that makes EPS accessible in a ablaze assignment pickup. The additional date is amid the brawl nut and brawl screw.
Running on Nexteer’s track, we could acquaint the aberration amid the hydraulic and EPS council systems because of affability differences, not because of basic changes. To prove that was the case, Chris Fabien, a Nexteer EPS arrangement architect — who’s never formed on hydraulic council systems — afflicted council characteristics as we drove. At the alpha of our lap, the EPS Silverado’s council acquainted hardly firmer than aback we angry the duke caster of the hydraulic Silverado. Fabien said it was based on addition Nexteer engineer’s claimed active preferences.
“Using my laptop” — affiliated to the truck’s council arrangement — “I’m able to change [software] knobs and settings that we use to change how the council feels,” Fabien said. Fabien additionally showed us graphed curves that represented how abundant electric council abetment was provided, based on the truck’s acceleration and council input. In real-time, the curves changed, depending on how fast the barter was traveling. What we acquainted with our hands, we could see on his laptop.
“There’s a ample table abstracts the arrangement looks up again,” Fabien said. “It uses that to actualize the graphs, which represent feel.”
That wasn’t the best arresting item. With a bang of the mouse, Fabien afflicted the truck’s council feel as we drove. One moment it acquainted close but responsive, then, the aing moment, it acquainted like we were active a Class 7 account barter as Fabien switched to a ambience that offered abundant beneath abetment throughout the council range.
In added words: Need bigger council feel? There’s an app for that.
Rack-mounted EPS system. It’s abiding adverse from the illustrated EPS diagram. The brawl spiral arbor (shown in front) sits central the assembly.
The demonstrations formed home the advantage that EPS can accord to barter manufacturers, who generally absorb months disturbing over the council feel of a new pickup.
With hydraulically steered trucks, engineers may accept to drive a barter for canicule or weeks to get a feel for its axis characteristics. Aback a change is needed, a valve that controls the breeze of hydraulic aqueous has to be machined. It’s an access that’s both labor- and time-intensive.
In contrast, EPS allows engineers to tune council feel at the moment that they actuate a change is needed.
“We accept a crosshair on the computer that we use to chase council achievement over curves as we drive,” Fabien said. “It’s absolutely abundant for affability because aback we acquisition a action that feels too ablaze or too heavy, we can anon annoyance that point [on the graph] to change the council feel. It can save weeks of development time.”
Dodak compares EPS affability to an apparition test. “Is A clearer than B? Is B bigger than C? We go aback and alternating bound to acquisition aloof the appropriate feel,” he said.
Pickup trucks administer abundant added front-end endless than the baby cars, area EPS is already used. Can a 12-volt EPS arrangement can handle big weights over the advanced axle? Nexteer showed as a full-size Cadillac Escalade SUV with about 1,000 pounds of beach sitting over its advanced end. At rest, after the account of advanced drive to advice abate council effort, we were calmly able to about-face the auto in both admonition after any assurance of strain.
That doesn’t beggarly we could acquaint the system’s backbone from our abrupt test, but after hydraulic aqueous and hoses, there won’t be any blowzy leaks as the arrangement ages. And Dodak said that Nexteer has been testing EPS in pickups for 97th percentile barter owners for up to bristles agent lifetimes or about 1.2 actor miles.
Nexteer’s Chevrolet Silverado 1500 demonstrator able with a 12-volt arbor EPS.
Nexteer says that EPS can advice advance agent assurance and stability.
Today’s adherence ascendancy systems abate burke or administer the brakes after the disciplinarian amid to advice balance a agent aback there’s a a or abounding accident of control. EPS can add a third ascendancy affection by demography inputs from the adherence ascendancy arrangement to accommodate caster torque and abetment to advice the disciplinarian achieve ascendancy quicker than they would accept with the brakes or agent alone.
There’s additionally the achievability of creating appropriate EPS active modes to advice trucks that are towing or angry crosswinds. Parallel parking and low-speed action can be acquainted with EPS, and assertive asperous alley altitude can be mitigated afore you feel them in your hands.
We’re afflicted with Nexteer’s EPS arrangement and anticipate it’s time to say adieu to addition bequest technology in trucks. How anon can you apprehend to drive a light-duty auto with EPS? One full-size barter architect has affairs to action it on their half-tons for 2011 models and at atomic three are accepted to action it aural three years.
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