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January 08, 2014

The Future of Car Technology: 2014 Infiniti Q50 Sport Sedan

at the news briefThe 2014 Infiniti Q50 sports sedan is much more than a fast and agile performance car.  This fine-tuned machine incorporates futuristic innovations that women will both understand and appreciate.

For example, the available Direct Adaptive Steering, (a world’s first for automotive), was initially developed by NASA in the 1970s and perfected in the airline industry. Its purpose was to respond more quickly than a pilot could.

And that is just what this system does. It allows independent control of the Q50's tire angle and steering inputs, thus transmitting the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system. Four settings of steering options allow customization to the driver’s preference. We tried out the system on a heavily rutted road and, true to its claim; it felt like we were driving on creamy surfaces. There was no steering wheel vibration, shifting or bouncing.

009The Direct Adaptive Steering was selected as Popular Science’s 2013 Best of What’s New Grand Award Winner. The magazine praised it as “one of the biggest steps yet” toward self-driving cars. The editors wrote: “Because there’s no physical link between the road and the steering wheel, drivers don’t feel jarring bumps or vibrations, but the system does electrically simulate natural steering resistance. Computers vary steering ratio and power assist for easier low-speed maneuvers and high-speed stability. And in the event of total power loss, a clutch restores mechanical control to the driver — that is, until the human driver becomes obsolete.”

Another world’s first, the Q50’s Active Lane Control uses a camera-based system to help drivers stay in their lanes. The system implements minor steering adjustments for unintended lane drift that may happen as a result of minor road surface changes or crosswinds. By reducing the need for steering input from the driver, his or her efforts may be reduced.

Evolution is taking place inside the car as well.

062As Infiniti Motor Company President Johan de Nysschen explained, “We want all the controls in the car to have the same characteristic (look, feel, touch and tone) consistent throughout the entire Infiniti line. The whole issue of connectivity has become the modern world…our children live in a new zone completely. It’s the new reality.”
De Nysschen noted that, pretending that this modern, linked in world doesn’t exist is not the way to deal with the future. Infiniti is approaching it head on.

“We can completely say that on one hand having this connectivity is a driving aid. For instance, let’s say I’m talking to my wife (on Bluetooth speaker) and I’ve forgotten an important date. After the call I can ask the system for a florist. This is the kind of liberation we get from technology!”

“What about providing Facebook apps? Is that going overboard?” I queried.

He answered, “If we don’t, people are going to haul out their mobile devices. It’s an evolution of lifestyle.  Just like we had to adapt to jumbo cup holders, now we have to design the car around the computer.”

To convey vital information effectively, the Q50 has large, dual touch screens (8-inch upper and 7-inch lower color displays) that were engineered for seamless communication between the car and the driver. 

065The upper screen includes the most frequently used applications such as navigation maps. The lower display screen displays data that is used less often. However, the screens work together so that, for example, the navigation map can be viewed on the top screen, while setting destinations or finding points-of-interest can take place on the lower screen.

Hard switches operate other functions such as heating and cooling. Yes, tactile controls … we love them! And, of course, owners can download, update and synch personal apps through their smartphones and USB drives.

On a final note, the 2014 Q50 luxury sports sedan just received an overall five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program. Infiniti’s revolutionary technology is a portent of what’s to come in the auto industry.


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