Automotive

2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan features drive-by-wire steering

The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan interior
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan interior
The Infiniti Q50 sedan
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan
The Infiniti Q50 sedan interior
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The Infiniti Q50 sedan interior

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 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

13 comments
Ozuzi
So if you get a flat battery you can't turn the front wheels? Call me old fashioned, but....
Adam Ackels
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! :-)
Bill Bennett
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
MD
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.
Catweazle
“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!
Rigby5
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?
Element6
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"?
David Bell
@ 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...
q50beast
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.
Ozuzi
Has anybody else had a battery die while you are driving the car