Add another item to the list of neat tricks that cars will soon be learning: the ability to maneuver sideways in order to slip into tight parking spaces.
The OmniSteer project, funded by Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research, aims to develop a vehicle with “a lateral and transverse guidance system capable of performing orthogonal, multi-directional, and non-linear driving and steering maneuvers.”
Project partners include the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and automotive supplier Schaeffler, which is already working on things like in-wheel motors and assisted steering systems that can vary the torque of each individual wheel.
“The increasing electrification and automation of vehicles makes it possible to offer users innovative driving functions,” write project managers Dr. Marcel Mayer and Dr. Michael Frey. “The added value offered by electric drives compared to internal combustion engines is significant, because we can directly integrate electric drives into each wheel.”
Innovative wheel suspension technology will allow a wider range of steering motion on the front and rear axles, and distance and lane guidance systems will enable increased maneuverability. “The vehicle will use sensors to identify its surroundings, calculate the best possible path of travel, and then independently perform complex maneuvers.”
This isn’t just a gee-whiz feature: it could make traffic flow more smoothly and save lots of time for applications like delivery services. “These driving functions directly increase safety, comfort, and energy efficiency as well as also improving the utilization of space and the flow of traffic in cities in the long term,” says Dr. Frey.