Thursday, December 11, 2008

Electronic Power Steering is a Big Bonus to Venza’s Star Safety System

by: T.J. Houghton

The All New Toyota Venza has Electronic Power Steering (EPS). From what I learned during Venza training is should be referred to as ESP! Technology like this just blows my mind. Although I learned this during the launch training for Venza, I do not believe that it is published by Toyota.

Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
Compact and lightweight, EPS eliminates many of the parts used in a conventional hydraulic sterring system (pump, hoses, fluid, etc.) for reduced maintenance and repairs.

Without the drag of a conventional power steering pump, EPS is able to improve both engine power output and fuel economy. (Toyota estimates up to 3% improvement in mpg figures.)

The system also varies the amount of steering effort based on vehicle speed.

EPS makes you safer.
To understand how Toyota's Electronic Power Steering is more than just another power steering system on Venza you must first understand how Vehicle Stability Control works. VSC is just one part of Toyota's Star Safety System that is standard on the new Venza.

Vehicle Stability Control
Even the best drivers can get caught by a bend that tightens unexpectedly – or the need to brake suddenly in mid-corner. Either action can unsettle the balance of the car. That's when VSC steps in to help the driver regain control quickly.

Sensors continuously monitor and cross-reference speed, steering angle, yaw rate and deceleration. The instant the system detects a loss of control, VSC steps in and momentarily dictates the individual braking force sent to each wheel. It also moderates the throttle until the tendency of the front to run wide (understeer), or the rear to break away (oversteer), is corrected.

Notice that VSC only controls the brake system and throttle. Steering is other very important input and is left up to the driver. During an unexpected driving situation that leads to a skid many things are happening not the least of which is PANIC! During a skid, what direction do you steer? The answer is that you steer into the direction of the skid and this can be counter intuitive to many people. Even if we know what direction we are supposed to turn the wheel, it isn't something that is common. Your heart is in your throat you see you life pass right in front of your eyes and through all of this you need to be a physics professor and know the correct steering inputs.
Here is where EPS can and will help keep you safe: You are in a skid; VSC recognizes it and begins to modulate the throttle and each brake individually to try and keep you on your intended path. If you make steering inputs that are in conflict with the VSC system is trying to do it sends a signal to the EPS system to resist steering in the wrong direction. If you are steering in the correct direction but just not enough the EPS system will make adjustment to increase the steering.

Wow! You can see why I think Toyota should have called it ESP. It's the kind of technology we hope you'll never need. But if you do, you'll be glad it's there. Once again Toyota has raised the standard.

For more information on Venza's Star Safety System watch the short video below.

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