The most exhaustive part about maneuvering your car in and out of tight spaces in a crowded parking lot is the unending back-and-forth turning of your steering wheel. To make that easier, Ford is introducing something called Adaptive Steering that does most of the turning for you—at slower speeds.
The new feature reduces the number of steering wheel turns needed to turn the vehicle’s front wheels all the way to the left or right depending on the speed you’re driving. So if you’re trying to slowly three-point-turn your vehicle out of a tight spot, you won’t have to spin the steering wheel all the way around again and again.
A motorized actuator built right into the steering wheel is able to add or subtract from a driver’s steering motions. At slower speeds it increases the turning rate of the vehicle as the steering wheel is being spun, but at higher highway speeds it does the opposite making the vehicle feel as if it’s handling more smoothly as you jerk the wheel around.
The new feature will be introduced on the 2016 Ford Edge, but since all of the electronics and actuators that make it possible are self-contained in the steering wheel, integrating Adaptive Steering into other vehicles down the line shouldn’t be too difficult for the automaker. The technology also seems like a great way to start slowly transitioning drivers to the idea of vehicles eventually driving themselves.