Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is a bold move by Infiniti and it had the guile, and the racing connections, to involve the best driver in the world (four-time F1 Champion) Sebastian Vettel in the development of Q50…

Vettel Shows Media the Q50 in the U.S.

 

Infiniti is celebrating a remarkable double 2014 AJAC New Technology Award win, as both of these ground breaking new technologies are available on its exceptional new Q50 sports sedan.

Direct Adaptive Steering, which is the first production auto use of a steer-by-wire system, won the Best New Innovation Technology Award. And a Predictive Forward Collision Warning Technology won the Best New Safety Technology Award.

This is the first year that AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) has presented a second “Best New Technology” award. It was done to resolve a recurring decision dilemma that we (I’m one of the 12) face on the judging panel: No matter how a smart or innovative a new technology entry may be, how do you choose it over an entry that could potentially save lives or reduce the severity of injuries in a collision.

In addition, dual awards also helps spread the love around as we get some terrific entries that deserve more exposure. This year was no exception and we had some brilliant entries from Honda, Ford, General Motors Toyota and Mercedes-Benz. The quality of the powertrain, braking, steering and active safety systems entries made the decision process very difficult.

Driving enthusiasts, almost universally, have a negative knee-jerk reaction to severing that mechanical link between the steering wheel and road wheels. Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is a bold move by Infiniti and it had the guile, and the racing connections, to involve the best driver in the world (four-time F1 Champion) Sebastian Vettel in the development of Q50.

On the plus side, DAS eliminates the mechanical losses that can dull and delay steering response to driver inputs in a mechanical/hydraulic steering system. Harsh unwanted vibrations at the steering wheel are eliminated and the driver can choose, using a four-mode selector, the amount of steering effort and response that he or she prefers. DAS can also interact with other handling systems such as Infiniti’s Active Lane Control system, which makes the Q50 feel like it is “magnetized” within a traffic lane.

An electronic actuator moves the steering rack, in response to steering wheel inputs by the driver, and turns the front wheels, during normal operational. It provides a faster and more precise steering response. DAS also has a triple-mode (three control units) clutch feature that instantly defaults it to a fail-safe mechanical steering linkage, if electrical power is cut.

The Best New Safety Technology award went to Infiniti’s Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) technology. This system can warn a driver of a potential collision risk that actually lies beyond a driver’s normal field of view. PFCW not only monitors movement of a vehicle that’s directly ahead in the same traffic lane, it can also (mystically) monitor a vehicle (two cars ahead) in front of the vehicle directly ahead.

PFCW can be particularly useful when following a large vehicle that obstructs forward vision like a delivery truck or a bus. Distance Control Assist sensors warn the driver to begin braking when it detects either one of the vehicles ahead are decelerating or braking at a rate beyond a certain threshold. The warnings consist of a visual alert in the Q50’s instrument cluster, an audible warning, and what’s call a “haptic” feedback warning, by tightening the seatbelt. If the driver ignores all of those warnings a collision intervention system kicks-in and applies the brakes.

The maximum range of the PFCW system is about 250 meters, but there are a lot of variables that might reduce its effectiveness. An important one is the amount of ground clearance offered by the vehicle directly ahead, as the low-mounted PFCW radar unit has to be able to see under it.

More information on these technologies and the new Infiniti Q50 sports sedan, AJAC and the Best New Technology Award entries and voting procedures can be found at AJAC.ca.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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