Dead steering: no feedback

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ChristianAB
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Dead steering: no feedback

Postby ChristianAB » Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:42 pm

I am currently driving a courtesy car: a vauxhall Corsa. I was looking forward to having a zippy little car but my hopes were too high. There is absolutely no feedback from the steering, which makes the car feel lifeless.

I understand that the electric steering setup is cheaper for manufacturers, but I think completely removing steering feedback is a step too far. We are humans after all. And sensory deprivation is a form of torture for a reason.
If even loaded muscle cars these days can be put on sale with dead steering (think mustang GT350R), then I guess my plea is probably hopeless. Still, I cannot understand why at least one of the car manufacturer does not turn that to their advantage.

Silk
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby Silk » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:18 pm

ChristianAB wrote:I am currently driving a courtesy car: a vauxhall Corsa. I was looking forward to having a zippy little car but my hopes were too high. There is absolutely no feedback from the steering, which makes the car feel lifeless.

I understand that the electric steering setup is cheaper for manufacturers, but I think completely removing steering feedback is a step too far. We are humans after all. And sensory deprivation is a form of torture for a reason.
If even loaded muscle cars these days can be put on sale with dead steering (think mustang GT350R), then I guess my plea is probably hopeless. Still, I cannot understand why at least one of the car manufacturer does not turn that to their advantage.


I don't believe most people know or care about this "feedback" thing. IMO, it's something for the driving geeks and motoring journalists to talk about and very little else. To be honest, I don't think I'd even notice it if it bit me on the arse, but what do I know?

Astraist
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby Astraist » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:47 am

ChristianAB wrote:I understand that the electric steering setup is cheaper for manufacturers.


It's actually a bit cheaper for you for the most part, taking signifcantly less power from the engine for it to operate. It's an environmental issue. There also isn't any fuss to be had with the hydraulic fluid...

Electric steering is also not inherently worst than hydraulic steering. Both are only assisted by hydraulics or electricity rather than relying on them to operate the steering mechanism, as would the case with steer-by-wire.

As with everything, there is a payoff because steering feedback is mostly about steering weight, which itself is the result of aligning torque caused by the mechanical trail of the slip angle, rather than being some function of the steering mechanism.

It needs to peak significantly as you near the limit, but for ultimate feedback it also needs to be relatively high all-around, so more muscle groups are incorprated into the steering effort and the "bandwith" (so to speak) for feedback is increased.

Now, for the major portion of the driver population who might not be sitting as closely as they should, not use both hands or grasp the wheel as they should, as well as for weaker drivers like the elderly, this amount of steering weight is undesireable, particularly at slow speeds.

Personally, I get my fair share of feedback from any wheel, provided I position myself comfortably relative to it, grasp it properly (rather than pinch-grip it), use leverage on it and mainly - hold it lightly, without tension in the forearms.

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ChristianAB
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby ChristianAB » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:23 pm

As with everything, there is a payoff because steering feedback is mostly about steering weight, which itself is the result of aligning torque caused by the mechanical trail of the slip angle, rather than being some function of the steering mechanism.

It needs to peak significantly as you near the limit, but for ultimate feedback it also needs to be relatively high all-around, so more muscle groups are incorprated into the steering effort and the "bandwith" (so to speak) for feedback is increased.



I disagree with the idea that feedback is mostly about steering weight. I drive a 2008 Mazda 6 which has what I would call a light steering and which I thought wasn't particularly communicative, until I test-drove the newer Mazda 6 model. The weight was similar, but compared to the newer model, the older setup produces small vibrations, which are actually in synch with what happens on the road. Hit a pothole, or standing water or a broken road surface, and you would get 3 vibrations, all different in frequency, strength, shape, etc. Hence the sense that the steering is a little bit alive, even though I repeat that overall, the steering is still quite light. By comparison, the newer model's steering would transmit...nothing; All 3 situations would feel the same.

Here I am specifically complaining about the lack of relationship between the actual loading of the tyres and what is transmitted back to the driver. Instead, what many electric setups seem to have is some kind of artificial loading of the steering wheel, playing on the weight alone (maybe using some pre-calculated algorithms?). But even that weight is misleading, since nothing from the road is actually truly "feeding back". In any case, the result is lifeless, textureless. Nature evolved my sense of touch and my hand-eye coordination over thousands of years only for car engineers to decide that only a poor approximation of steering weight, out-of-sync with what I can actually see on the road, would suffice.

No, steering is about much more than weight. Texture, vibrations, a superpositions of several frequencies, each with a distinct amplitude and each a faithful consequence of some actual physical action on the car from road, air, inertia....

But enough said. I guess I should just sell an organ then buy a lotus, any lotus, and shut up and enjoy this disappearing delicacy that is a truly talkative steering wheel.

Silk
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby Silk » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:30 pm

ChristianAB wrote:I disagree with the idea that feedback is mostly about steering weight. I drive a 2008 Mazda 6 which has what I would call a light steering and which I thought wasn't particularly communicative, until I test-drove the newer Mazda 6 model. The weight was similar, but compared to the newer model, the older setup produces small vibrations, which are actually in synch with what happens on the road. Hit a pothole, or standing water or a broken road surface, and you would get 3 vibrations, all different in frequency, strength, shape, etc. Hence the sense that the steering is a little bit alive, even though I repeat that overall, the steering is still quite light. By comparison, the newer model's steering would transmit...nothing; All 3 situations would feel the same.


I owned a (2004) MK1 Mazda 6 in which I covered over 100K miles and I've driven one of the newer ones on a test with a view to purchase (which never materialised) and I've absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I liked the way they drive, but I've no idea why.

Astraist
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby Astraist » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:51 pm

ChristianAB wrote:I disagree with the idea that feedback is mostly about steering weight.[...]Hit a pothole, or standing water or a broken road surface, and you would get 3 vibrations, all different in frequency, strength, shape, etc.


True. but what is the use of the steering wheel vibrating all that much over road undulations? Steering weight is important because it gives you some inkling as to how much of the performance envelope you are using.

Kickback over bumps, while important, should be relatively limited unless one wants to waste energy at the steering wheel for no particular cause. A vibration is also set when approaching the limit, but that's another story.

And again, if the grip on the wheel is efficient and relaxed - than suddenly a "dead" steering wheel is revived.

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jont-
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby jont- » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:33 am

ChristianAB wrote:But enough said. I guess I should just sell an organ then buy a lotus, any lotus, and shut up and enjoy this disappearing delicacy that is a truly talkative steering wheel.

:lol: Or a caterham. Although until you fix things, that produces an excess of bump steer that makes the car somewhat unpleasant (especially on Fen roads) :lol: It's not much use if you can't feel the important bits for all the inane chatter going on.

As well as the caterham, I have a Clio which has EPS. Yes, it has light steering. No, it doesn't bump around the way the caterham does. However it's still perfectly possible to feel how much/little grip the car has. But I think you do need to develop a degree of sensitivity to what's going on as Astraist has said. A couple of years ago I would have sided with Christian, but having spent a relatively small amount of time with Don Palmer it has helped me develop my feel a bit more.

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ChristianAB
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby ChristianAB » Mon May 02, 2016 7:29 pm

But I think you do need to develop a degree of sensitivity to what's going on as Astraist has said. A couple of years ago I would have sided with Christian, but having spent a relatively small amount of time with Don Palmer it has helped me develop my feel a bit more.


It is precisely because I have developed my sensitivity that I can feel those small vibrations in my Mazda 6.

Kickback over bumps, while important, should be relatively limited unless one wants to waste energy at the steering wheel for no particular cause. A vibration is also set when approaching the limit, but that's another story.

And again, if the grip on the wheel is efficient and relaxed - than suddenly a "dead" steering wheel is revived.


I don't mind having limited kickback. After all, not everyone wants to turn driving into a workout. Instead, I am against having absolutely no kickback at all. In fact, I believe that if the steering wheel is truly and entirely "dead" to start with, relaxing grip is unlikely to revive it. Rather, the relaxed grip will probably help the brain focus on other cues (sounds, visions, balance...) in order to compensate for what the steering wheel is not providing.

Of course, most steering setups are not entirely dead, and they filter to a greater and lesser extent road information. My point is that human hands are perfectly able to do that filtering, provided that the steering wheel is set up to enhance and complement them, not replace or confuse them.

I owned a (2004) MK1 Mazda 6 in which I covered over 100K miles and I've driven one of the newer ones on a test with a view to purchase (which never materialised) and I've absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I liked the way they drive, but I've no idea why.


I have only ever driven Mk2 and Mk3 Mazda 6s, so I can't really comment.

sussex2
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby sussex2 » Fri May 20, 2016 2:51 pm

jont- wrote:
ChristianAB wrote:But enough said. I guess I should just sell an organ then buy a lotus, any lotus, and shut up and enjoy this disappearing delicacy that is a truly talkative steering wheel.

:lol: Or a caterham. Although until you fix things, that produces an excess of bump steer that makes the car somewhat unpleasant (especially on Fen roads) :lol: It's not much use if you can't feel the important bits for all the inane chatter going on.

As well as the caterham, I have a Clio which has EPS. Yes, it has light steering. No, it doesn't bump around the way the caterham does. However it's still perfectly possible to feel how much/little grip the car has. But I think you do need to develop a degree of sensitivity to what's going on as Astraist has said. A couple of years ago I would have sided with Christian, but having spent a relatively small amount of time with Don Palmer it has helped me develop my feel a bit more.


You said it in your last line.
The feel the driver has is every bit as important as anything the car can produce.
I don't feel I have any less sense about what either of our vehicles is doing (MX5 and Citroen van) though you'd think the MX would provide more 'feel' but that not always the feeling I get :)
I'll say something for the van, it has just about the best brakes I have ever found in an 'ordinary' vehicle; they really are superb four square.

Imsensible
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Re: Dead steering: no feedback

Postby Imsensible » Mon May 30, 2016 11:50 am

Having driven vehicles with EPS, HPS and no PS, all I can say is that despite what some may say, in my experience, modern EPS is a pale imitation of the other methods, no matter how sensitive the driver. I can feel the vibrations in modern cars, but it's like wearing a thick layer of cushioning on your hands... it isn't anything like non assisted steering. The 'weight' tends to be wrong as well, generally too light around the centre. It doesn't have to be that way.


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