Despite claiming its new FH tractor, which goes into production next month, already has handling and steering approaching that of a modern car, Volvo Trucks has now revealed a new steering system that promises to be even better.
Dubbed Volvo Dynamic Steering, it entails the addition of an electric motor sitting on top of the usual hydraulic steering pump. One end of the motor’s shaft is connected to the steering pump, the other to the normal steering column, so that the motor serves as an extra link in the chain, delivering up to 25Nm of torque steering input.
Working in conjunction with the hydraulic pump, it is claimed to give several benefits:
- First, there is straightforward power assistance, reducing the driver’s physical input, particularly at low speeds and on rough roads.
- Second, sensors that compare steering input and feedback 2,000 times a second are controlling the motor’s output so that it serves as a buffer, damping out kick-backs through the steering felt by the driver. This is claimed to make driving on rough roads easier because the motor is handling the continuous minor corrections normally made by the driver. And on cambered roads the steering sensors detect and counteract the pulling effect of the slope, relieving the driver of the need to manually correct for the camber.
There is a fail-safe arrangement so that the steering defaults to a conventional system in the event of an electrical fault.
“Volvo Dynamic Steering elevates the steering of heavy vehicles to an entirely new dimension,” said Gustav Neander, project manager for the system. “The technology makes the driver’s working conditions more relaxed and controlled.”
However, despite the claimed benefits Volvo as yet has no plans to integrate dynamic steering as standard. It will instead be available as an extra-cost option on FH, FM or FMX models, with single-axle steering produced from September onwards.
Its price has yet to be fixed. The company already offers independent front suspension on the new FH an an additonal extra.