An inescapable sense of excitement surrounds the three specialists in the Gothenburg meeting room. They are about to introduce the biggest news in steering since the servo. The new system reduces the forces on the driver by up to 85 percent. More than enough to reduce wear and tear on the driver and increase productivity.
With very precise turns and go-cart like steering it was easy to see how the new system could improve long haul driving. But no one could anticipate how much difference it would make when manoeuvring a fully loaded truck at low speed. Bosse Franzon speaks from experience: “When the truck was fully laden I was able to steer with one finger.
I tried the same thing in my car afterwards but my fingers weren’t strong enough.”
What I-Shift did for gearboxes, this will do for steering
The new steering qualities are ideal in the Volvo FM, or wherever a lot of manoeuvring is needed. “Take urban distribution,’’ says development engineer Kristoffer Tagesson, and continues. “When entering a roundabout you often see drivers lean forward to get more upper body strength. Turning at low speed can be a real struggle.” The servo torque is progressive, so there’s more assistance at lower speeds. This takes a lot of the strain out of everyday driving. And with less fatigue safety is improved.
Wear and tear injuries
Even young drivers are now starting to suffer from neck and shoulder problems. “In this light Volvo Dynamic Steering isn’t just about comfort,” says senior engineer, Jan-Inge Svensson. “This innovation can reduce wear and tear injuries on drivers – along with sick leave statistics. From a driver point of view it can prolong your active career without bringing on shoulder problems. And if you are less tired after eight or nine hours of driving, there are going to be fewer incidents.”
Research shows that neck and shoulder pain is common among drivers of all ages.
Predictable, not tiresome
Even at high speed the driver is pushed and pulled around all day by irregularities in the road surface. Here, disturbance cancellation filters out the imperfections to make the drive more relaxing. Volvo Dynamic Steering also gives the truck greater directional stability at high speed. According to Kristoffer Tagesson, this helps make it predictable. “The steering itself is very clean and crisp. The added assistance provides the right force to the steering wheel at each and every moment. This makes the steering less tiresome and more predictable.”
Potholes give the steering wheel a kick, but Volvo Dynamic Steering cancels the disturbance before it gets there.
Cruise with less drift
Normally the road is banked to one side, but the vehicle strives downwards. So even on a new highway the driver is continually forced to compensate the drift. Pull drift compensation calculates the average banking of the road and compensates for it accordingly. In this way Volvo Dynamic Steering takes strain off the driver’s shoulders during long haul driving.
Volvo Dynamic Steering is powered by an electric motor which controls the steering 2,000 times per second. “This gives you an idea of its precision,” says Bosse Franzon. “The technology is developed on a Torque Overlay platform, which means we have a very wide scope to extend its functionality in the future. I believe that what I-Shift did for gearboxes, this will do for steering. It’s going to become a very popular option.”
Reverse takes a step forward
Volvo Dynamic Steering offers assistance where it’s often needed the most – in reverse gear. The steering wheel returns to its neutral position just as naturally as when driving forwards. This takes the effort out of turning the wheel during a critical driving situation. Kristoffer Tagesson explains: “When the truck’s front axle is loaded with nine or ten tonnes, backing up is heavy work. With Volvo Dynamic Steering you put the truck in reverse and start steering with the slightest of effort. Then you can let go of the wheel and watch it turn smoothly back until the truck straightens up.”
“If you park the rig straight, put it in reverse and take your hands off the wheel you can virtually reverse as far as you like. After a hundred meters you might notice your trailer axles are not perfectly aligned any longer. But to do the same thing without Volvo Dynamic Steering would produce a jack-knife after twenty meters,” says Bosse Franzon.
Learn more about the benefits of Volvo Dynamic Steering