German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG has prototyped EasyTurn, a suspension modification that gives cars an absurdly tight turning radius.
"With EasyTurn steering angles of up to 80 degrees are possible," the company writes. "Turning and parking maneuvers are almost effortless thanks to the extremely high steering angle." For example:
That is crazy. And while they're undoubtedly thinking of urban markets, most likely in places like Europe and Japan, I can attest that the feature would be supremely useful in rural settings. Driveways out here can be tight, and no one I know out here has a turnaround in front of their house. )At one of my neighbors' house, if you come down the driveway and there's a car at the end of it, the only way to get out is to reverse the twisty tree-lined driveway for maybe 75 yards. He ruefully calls it "the taillight graveyard" because so many visitors have cracked theirs on the way out.)
One proposed use of EasyTurn that I think drivers might struggle with is the parallel parking. If you've learned to do it the conventional way, you'll need to re-learn it. While ZF has thoughtfully concluded you'll need a visual indication of just how sharply the wheels are turned…
…in the demo below, you can see that you actually have to break the parallel parking move into three discrete steps:
That kind of seems like more work, no?
One last rural aside: Another of my neighbors has a 2006 GMC Sierra, and he said if it ever gets trashed, he'll find another, same year, same model. Why? Because that year GMC offered four-wheel steering. I've seen him do stuff with that truck both forwards and backwards that are simply impossible in a conventional truck. (Sadly, GMC since canceled the feature.)
In any case, here's the EasyTurn full demo:
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