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Nissan's new "steer-by-wire" technology makes joystick driving possible

Also known as “independent control steering technology,” Nissan's "steer-by-wire" system replaces mechanical steering through an innovative computer controlled unit.

It appears that mechanical steering systems may soon be a thing of the past. Nissan Motor Co has announced plans to introduce a cutting-edge electronic steering control system, which may one day enable drivers to steer via joystick. The automaker will introduce its “steer-by-wire” technology within a year on select Infiniti models, according to Reuters.

Dubbed “independent control steering technology,” the new technology looks to replace mechanical steering, which mechanically links the steering wheel and the tires. Nissan’s “steer-by-wire” system would move the tires through a computerized engine control unit that receives input from the steering wheel. Vehicles containing the forthcoming system will also feature a backup clutch that mechanically connects the steering wheel and tires.

“In the future, if we are freed from that, we would be able to place the steering wheel wherever we like, such as in the back seat, or it would be possible to steer the car with a joystick,” said Masaharu Satou, a Nissan engineer.

Although Nissan did not invent the technology, it would become the first automaker to apply it to mass-produced cars. Several carmakers have previously used similar system in concept cars, including Audi. In fact, the Audi A2 concept, which was unveiled in 2011, featured electronically controlled steering.

While similar to earlier systems, Nissan insists that their technology is the most advanced yet. The automaker’s system utilizes quick speed electronic signals that transmit driver’s intentions more rapidly than its predecessors. Additionally, drivers will be able to operate the vehicle more efficiently because Nissan’s technology eliminates unnecessary tire feedback.

As if that weren’t beneficial enough, Nissan’s system will also steer the vehicle away from an object if it identifies the potential for a crash. The system will achieve this through the use of radars, laser scanners and a camera.

Nissan’s announcement directly corresponds with the company’s new “Innovation” campaign, which uses the tagline: “Reinventing the way you drive.” In order to reinvent the way people drive, Nissan is tackling design, safety, technology and the environment.

Additionally, Nissan also recently launched the “WHAT IF_” campaign, which asks questions like: “What if your car could clean the air?” “What if your car could charge your house?” and “What if a car could make life better?” In August, Nissan began the “What if your phone controlled your car?” campaign featuring the all-electric Nissan Leaf. As the title implies, Leaf drivers can now manage and control certain car functions from their smart phone.

Stay tuned for more information regarding Nissan’s independent control steering system, as well as updates from its “WHAT IF_” promotion.