German company ZF, which makes things like automatic transmissions, airbags, and advanced driver assistance systems, has unveiled a working prototype of a steering module that could all but eliminate the need for three-point turns if it goes into production and is adopted at scale by car makers.
Dubbed the Easy Turn Strut, ZF’s invention is a strut suspension axle that can reduce a car’s turning radius to as little as 18.7 feet (5.7 meters) if the vehicle is also aided by a rear-wheel steering system, by turning the front wheels at up to 80 degrees.
In cars that don’t benefit from rear-wheel steering, ZF’s Easy Turn can lower the turning radius to 22.3 ft (6.8 m), which is still much better than the average turning radius of about 33 to 36 ft (10 to 11 m) that modern cars are usually capable of achieving.
The German supplier showcased the tech on a prototype BMW i3 at its headquarters in Friedrichshafen late last week, and as you can see in the video embedded above, the electric hatchback can almost turn on a dime, potentially making parallel parking and turning around in small spaces much easier.
ZF says that the Easy Turn Strut works best in a rear-wheel drive all-electric car because it’s easier to implement in a vehicle that doesn’t have an engine or other mechanical parts in the way of the two front wheels.
The south-German firm that made the world’s first nine-speed automatic transmission also says that it’s an “affordable” solution that needs another two and a half years to bring to market, according to Automotive News.
The European supplier isn’t the only company working on a way to make urban maneuvering easier. Back in January, Hyundai Mobis – the Korean brand’s spare parts and autonomous driving division – presented the so-called e-Corner system that allows all four wheels to rotate at up to 90 degrees. Furthermore, Hyundai’s system integrates an electric motor, electric damper, brake by wire, and steer by wire, making it a complete package that can be fitted to just about any plug-in vehicle without wasting space.
As always, we’d like to know what you think about this, so after watching the video embedded at the top of this page, head over to the comments section to give us your thoughts.