Steer-by-Wire Systems with Integrated Torque Feedback Improve Steering Performance and Reduce Cost
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These cleaning machines were originally
designed with direct-drive steering and
electrical torque assist. Nilfisk-Advance
engineers made the decision to upgrade
the steering system to electronic steer-by-wire in order to improve steering performance,
reduce power consumption,
and make it possible to add additional features.
“We considered hydraulic steering;
however, the vehicle only has a small
hydraulic power pack used for lifting the
hopper and closing the dump door,” said
Kurt Vetse, mechanical engineer. “This
power pack is designed for intermittent
use so going to hydraulic steering would
have required a new continuous-duty
power pack. This would have significantly
increased the cost of the steering system.
We didn’t want to devote the extensive
resources or expose ourselves to the risk
that would have been required to develop
our own steer-by-wire system from scratch.
So we looked at three leading commercial
steer-by-wire solutions. We selected the
Thomson unit because of its compact size
and low cost.”
The integrated steer-by-wire unit
incorporates all of the capabilities needed
for steer-by-wire, including torque
feedback technology that provides
repeatable performance over time and
temperature and no torque at zero current.
The steer-by-wire unit bolts right
on to the existing gearbox that Nilfisk-Advance uses to turn the steered wheel,
and fits within the existing console.
Nilfisk-Advance engineers adjusted the
torque feedback to simulate the
hydraulic steering systems that many
customers are used to. They configured
the unit to provide fewer lock-to-lock
steering wheel turns than are required
by most hydraulic systems to reduce the
amount of operator effort. They also
decreased the level of steering sensitivity
when the vehicle is going straight in
order to make it easier for the operator
to keep the vehicle on a straight path.
This article was written by Geoff Rondeau,
Product Manager, Thomson Industries, Inc.,
Wood Dale, IL. For more information, visit
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