Steering Angle Sensing Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987

A Prophetic Concept Produces the World's First Four-Wheel Steering System

Steering Angle Sensing Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987

Can We Utilize the Rear Wheels of FF Cars?

The 1960s were a decade of dramatic progress in science and engineering. In space, NASA's Apollo missions fostered boundless dreams and aspirations, as man took his first glorious steps upon the surface of the moon. And on Earth, people were beginning to see visions of an ever-advancing automotive technology. It all meant the promise of a bright future.

Photo

The 1987 Prelude, featuring the world's first steering angle sensing 4WS

The rapid popularization of automobiles in the 1960s backlashed in the 1970s, however. Various problems began to emerge, from environmental pollution and traffic congestion to growing numbers of traffic accidents and recalls of defective vehicles. In response to public concerns, significant efforts were made to address these problems. The ESV (Experimental Safety Vehicle) program, led by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a U.S. agency), was one such effort.

The ESV's objective was to conduct a fundamental review of automobile safety, with the intention of lowering the rising tide of traffic accidents. It was a matter of global consensus, with automobile manufacturers around the world joining the program. With its automobile operations finally getting on track, Honda decided to participate in the program as well, though on a semi-official level. As a result, research was begun on an experimental safety vehicle.

Automotive safety generally falls into two categories: "Collision avoidance" and "active safety." Honda's themes of research were explored from the perspective of enhanced active safety in the areas of maneuverability, stability and dynamic performance. In other words, the research aimed at developing responsive vehicles that could more easily avoid obstacles and, when necessary, come to a quick, complete stop. It was this research effort that ultimately laid the foundation for subsequent evolutionary developments in power steering. Another of the possibilities examined through Honda's research was a hydraulic suspension system designed to prevent centrifugal force from affecting the driver.

The assurance of active safety, which was the main target of the research, meant that Honda would have to identify fundamentally effective mechanisms in order to achieve better dynamic performance. At the end of 1977, Honda held a brainstorming session in the hope of returning to the basics through a review of fundamental vehicle structures. This brainstorming session gave birth to the concept of a 4-wheel steering (4WS) system.

Honda vehicles were at the time essentially front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FF) models. In an FF vehicle the rear wheels play a relatively minor role, since the front wheels perform around 80 percent of the steering, driving and braking. Compared to the front wheels, the rear wheels are merely in place as a means of support, ensuring that the car moves ahead in a straight and predictable fashion.

The brainstorming session produced certain discussions that led to an interesting fact: although there were cars with four-wheel brake systems and four-wheel drive, steering control was universally given to the front wheels. Naturally, they wondered if they could utilize the idle rear wheels to provide some steering function. With that, an initial concept was defined. The fact that only Honda had vehicles of FF specification made the idea all the more intriguing. If the rear wheels could be employed in a way that provided some steering control, dynamic performance would improve significantly. The research engineers began to ponder that question, and as they did their desire for a new challenge was awakened.

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

A System that Fosters Expertise
  1. A System that Fosters ExpertiseA System that Fosters Expertise
  2. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
  3. Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification  / 1960Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  1. A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the WorldA Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  2. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  3. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  4. Introducing N360 / 1967Introducing N360 / 1967
  5. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  6. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  7. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  8. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
Marketing Globally, Producing Lacally
  1. Marketing Globally, Producing LocallyMarketing Globally, Producing Locally
  2. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959
  3. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  4. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
A Refreshing New Development
  1. A Refreshing New DevelopmentA Refreshing New Development
Products Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  1. Products Emerging From Technology and InnovationProducts Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  2. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  7. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  8. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  9. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  10. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  11. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  12. Road Pal / 1976Road Pal / 1976
  13. City / 1981City / 1981
  14. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
  15. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  16. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  17. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  18. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  19. The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
Production Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufacturing
  1. Production Technology: The Essence of Creative ManufaturingProduction Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufaturing
  2. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  3. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  4. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  5. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
A Neverending Passion for Racing
  1. A Neverending Passion for RacingA Neverending Passion for Racing
  2. Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962
  3. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  4. Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964
  5. Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983
  6. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  7. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
Creativity - The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  1. Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  2. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  1. People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with NaturePeople and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  2. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  3. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  4. Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991

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