The computer as co-pilot

Automotive-sector | Technology in the car is becoming more and more important. In Hungary thyssenkrupp is developing intelligent steering systems that respond precisely the way the situation demands.

Imagine you’re driving down the expressway in your new Mercedes, enjoying the feeling that your car and the road were made for one another. Your vehicle sprints up a hill. A trailer appears ahead of you, moving so slowly it might as well be standing still. With your hand you steer gently into the left-hand lane. Later, while parking, a finger is all it takes to move the steering wheel and turn the front wheels into position. If the steering wheel had been this responsive on the expressway, you wouldn’t have gotten very far. But how does the wheel know how it should respond at different times?

The answer is simple: intelligent steering systems. They are already fitted in most new models of premium manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW, developed in our Electric and Electronic Competence Center in Budapest. Here, more than 350 colleagues work on steering systems that are controlled by tiny computers and use artificial intelligence to keep the vehicle under control.

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The development center has developed a complex mechatronic system that includes both software and hardware. It means manufacturers can give their cars precisely the steering feel they want. © Gergely Szatmári

Computer informs the motor

Most of us are a cross between an engineer and a car enthusiast. When we started out in 1999 we had to invent not just the product but the whole development process. Back then we all worked in one room, but today we’re a really big team, spread over several floors. Our goal is to develop steering systems that are more robust and affordable without compromising on safety.

The first power steering systems on the market were hydraulic and relatively simple. Modern steering systems work with an electric motor connected to the rack or steering column. The motor is linked to a computer that tells it when and how it should assist the movement of the steering wheel.

The algorithm decides

Alongside the brakes the reliability of the steering system is crucial to safe driving. That’s why the computer spends roughly 50 percent of its computing time on safety. Its algorithm contains various diagnostic functions to make sure the system is safe. But it also gives the vehicle a unique steering feel and forms the basis for the other components of the steering system.

Our next big challenge will be autonomous driving. Using GPS, radar and other technologies, cars of the future will be able to drive themselves. The Steering business unit of thyssenkrupp will make a major contribution to meeting this technical challenge – thanks to our development work in Budapest.

Most of us are a cross between an engineer and a car enthusiast.

LÁSZLÓ NASZÁDOSDepartment Manager E/E-Hardware

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LÁSZLÓ NASZÁDOS, Department Manager E/E-Hardware © Gergely Szatmári

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