TOKYO -- Two of the world's biggest steering suppliers have diametrically opposed views of the importance of steer-by-wire to the future of autonomous driving.
The disagreement pits Toyota-affiliated JTEKT Corp., the world's top steering supplier, against NSK Corp., the world's No. 3 electric power-steering player, in visions for the future.
JTEKT says a shift toward steer-by-wire is inevitable and necessary for tomorrow's self-driving cars. NSK says it is too costly and today's electric steering systems will suffice.
The Japanese rivals' divergent strategies underscore the debate about how fast a "by-wire" age will arrive in which steering is no longer a physical extension of a driver's firm grip.
Steer-by-wire systems convert steering wheel movements into electronic signals that control electric motors moving the wheels. Proponents see it as a natural progression of the brake-by-wire and throttle-by-wire systems already in use.
Eliminating the bulky steering column can reduce costs, open new room for design flexibility and improve steering precision.