German component maker, Schaeffler, has come up with an innovative technology called Space Drive. Space Drive, essentially, is a steer-by-wire technology that relies on electronics and does away with the steering wheel. It is also a testing bed for future autonomous driving. You see, the technology usually used in races or extreme sports is trickled down to road-going cars. In fact if something works in such tiring conditions, it will definitely last on the road is the general idea. After all, road users rarely push their vehicles to its limits. Coming back to the Space Drive system, the 2021 DTM season opener which will be held in Monza, Italy will see three German cars with this tech. These cars will be the Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Sophia Flörsch (Schaeffler brand ambassador, Gary Paffett’s Mercedes-AMG and Timo Glock’s BMW M6 GT3.
This season, Schaeffler will also be teaming up with two teams for the first time; Marco Wittmann will be driving for Walkenhorst Motorsport and Sophia Flörsch for Abt Sportsline. The Space Drive system will free a lot of space on the dashboard as it ditches the steering wheel. The heart of this electronic steer-by-wire system happens to be an inbuilt computer, also known as the Space Drive head module. The driver inputs are sent to the servo motor and the wheels of the car are turned, as desired. The absence of any mechanical connection between the input component for steering (e.g. the steering wheel) and the vehicle’s wheels is what makes this system so special.
Schaeffler says that “Development of new vehicle-interior concepts for passenger cars in the future is possible due to this; it will also free up space for additional sensors and other control units that simplify autonomous and/or remote-controlled vehicle operation.” Autonomous driving is something that Schaeffler is targeting by 2025 and the Space Drive will help it achieve this in a huge fashion if the technology is adopted in road-going cars.
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