January 6, 2021

Mando Steer by wire 400x275South Korea-based Mando Corporation, a global auto parts company, announced it has won an Innovation Award for CES 2021 in the Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category, for its Steer-by-Wire (SbW) system.

One of the ideas that have popped up around the development of self-driving cars is that if the vehicle is doing all of the driving, why include a steering wheel? In many cases, a steering wheel allows someone to take over in case the system gets stuck or needs a human assistant. But as self-driving technology improves, the idea that someone would still sit in the same spot of a car as when they were driving becomes limiting.

Mando says that for automobile design, the challenge for the past 120 years has been the separation of the body (driving space) and the chassis (space for moving the vehicle). “In particular, electric cars, known to have relatively freer design flexibility, needed independent wheels (chassis) and a steering wheel for the efficiency in mass production, including batteries and freedom of system control, but there was no technology to replace mechanical connections,” the company said.

SbW is a pure electronic product, and the Electrical Signal (by Wire) replaces mechanical movement, Mando says, which opens up better vehicle design options. “With SbW, the steering wheel can be freely located according to the purpose of the vehicle, and can also be designed with ‘Auto Stow,’ (take out and use when needed) functionality,” Mando said. Without a steering wheel, the indoor space can be maximized and turn the vehicle into a “Living Space,” with a driver’s seat that can rotate 180 degrees to face other passengers, or allow automakers to provide self-driving experiences such as reading, playing games, or watching movies.

Mando said the core components of SbW are designed to be dual redundant, which means with a single system failure, the entire system will continue to operate normally, while fail information gets automatically recorded for future analysis. The company said it expects to mass-produce the SbW system in North America next year. It plans to release a video clip of the system during next week’s CES 2021 virtual event.