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Audi receives the 2009 Award for Mechatronic Innovation

  • Association of German Engineers (VDI) honors Audi dynamic steering as exceptional innovation
  • Cross-sector competition in the cutting-edge field of mechatronics
  • Dynamic steering boosts driving pleasure, safety, and comfort

Audi blazes trails in the discipline of mechatronics. This year the Association of German Engineers (VDI) has presented the inaugural Award for Mechatronic Innovation for Audi’s dynamic steering, which handsomely demonstrates the innovation potential offered by the intelligent combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, and computer science. This award-winning technology ensures greater agility, comfort, and safety by intelligently varying steering forces and the steering ratio as well as via active stability control.

‘The close intertwining of different disciplines and areas of expertise is a key innovation driver at Audi. This award is fantastic recognition of it,’ says Dr. Ralf Schwarz, Head of Development of Chassis Control Systems. Dr. Schwarz accepted the Award for Mechatronic Innovation on behalf of Audi at the Association’s 2009 Mechatronics Meeting on Tuesday in Wiesloch, near Heidelberg in Germany. The Association’s panel of judges presented the award in recognition of a cross-sector innovation which constitutes an outstanding technological advance — made possible by pooling the R&D pursuits of mechanical engineers, electronic engineers, and computer scientists.

Innovative, aerospace power-transmission technologies, highly sensitive sensors, and digital data networking: Audi dynamic steering integrates the collective know-how from numerous mechanical and electronic systems for enhanced driving pleasure and safety.

This system automatically adjusts the steering ratio and steering force to a vehicle’s speed to ensure that steering characteristics are perfectly tailored to a given situation. At high motorway speeds, a rather indirect steering ratio and rather high steering torque guarantee superb driving comfort and straight-line stability. Conversely, steering is relatively direct on winding routes as well as at low and mid-range speeds — for even better steering precision and lightning-fast responsiveness. Minimum steering effort via a direct ratio simplifies getting into and out of parking spaces. A slight turn of the steering wheel is all that’s needed.

In addition, dynamic steering reduces risks in problematic driving situations. It works with the electronic stabilization program (ESP) to automatically effect steering corrections to stabilize the vehicle. As a result, it is often unnecessary that the ESP brakes — consequently further boosting handling and active security.

Audi dynamic steering is based on the principle of superimposed steering.

In other words, the steering angle chosen by a driver is modified — as dictated by a given driving situation. Moreover, sensitive sensors determine the steering angle specified by the driver turning the steering wheel. Processors then evaluate all relevant data before calculating the wheels’ optimum steering angle and, correspondingly, the necessary steering assistance — thanks to an intermediate gear driven by an electric motor.

With this dynamic steering technology, Audi is the first automotive manufacturer to incorporate the innovative harmonic drive in a steering system. Borrowed from aerospace engineering, this technology functions as an intermediate gear practically free of backlash and friction. It therefore allows for high-precision steering and can very efficiently transmit tremendous torque. As the gear and the electric motor are extremely lightweight and compact, they can easily be integrated directly into the steering column.

Dynamic steering is already optionally available for the Audi A4, S4, A4 allroad, A5, S5, A5 Cabriolet, and Audi Q5. This technology, winner of the Association of German Engineers 2009 Award for Mechatronic Innovation, can be ordered in conjunction with Audi drive select.

Audi drive select allows drivers to modify the very personality of their vehicle whenever they wish: from luxuriously comfortable to assertively sporty.

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