Tesla has filed a patent for their own steer-by-wire system, which should improve the functionality of the yoke steering wheel. Tesla has been working on implementing this system for well over a year, but it hasn’t been added to any vehicle in the lineup, so with the patent application, the question now becomes when will see it?
When Tesla first introduced the yoke steering wheel back in mid-2021 with the Model S and Model X refresh, one of the biggest complaints was how difficult it was to use when you had to make a turn in a tight space, requiring multiple hand-over-hand motions to fully turn the wheel. Perhaps the biggest advantage of steer-by-wire is its ability to provide a more accurate steering ratio. With such a system in place there is no need for hand-over-hand motions when maneuvering through a sharp turn.
Tesla has now filed a patent application for a steer-by-wire system. The application was first reported by Electrek, but the publication did not include a patent number or any other identifying information for it. As a result we have been unable to verify it as it does not appear on any of the typical databases we regularly review for new patents and trademarks. However they did include a brief excerpt and drawing from it.
A vehicle steering system by wire to control the lateral motion of the vehicle is provided. The system includes a steering wheel torque feedback actuator assembly with two controllers, a front road wheel steering actuator assembly with two zonally isolated motors and controllers, two separate power assemblies, two separate vehicle communication networks in separate wiring bundle assemblies, and three private system communication networks between each node in the steering system. The redundant components are zonally isolated such that common cause of faults do not endanger the system when one or more of the components fails. The system can include differential gearbox road wheel actuator to allow absolute position of the road wheels. The system can further include a set of position sensor assemblies including two magnetic and one inductive sensor assemblies.
We were expecting a steer-by-wire system to be added to the Model S and Model X last year after footage was shared with us showing the system working in a Model S. In that video that yoke steering wheel achieved full lock with less than one full rotation, something that would make it much easier to use in day to day driving.
We have also heard that steer-by-wire will be standard in the Cybertruck, so it could be that Tesla was developing the system to first launch in the Cybertruck before expanding it to their other vehicles. Tesla looks like they will be offering a hybrid yoke/round steering wheel, along with a round steering wheel option for the electric pickup truck.
The Model 3 Project Highland refresh that is supposed to debut in a few months is also a prime contender to gain this new steer-by-wire system.
Either way Tesla is going to introduce steer-by-wire, it is just a matter of when.