Optimizing Steering Column Layout and UJ Phase Angle to Enhance Vehicle Dynamics Performance 2019-01-5010
Vehicle dynamics is one of the most important vehicle attributes. It is classified into three domains, the longitudinal, vertical, and lateral dynamics. This paper focuses on optimizing the lateral vehicle dynamics which is driven by the straight ahead controllability and cornering controllability of the vehicle. One of the important parameters that dictates these sub-attributes is the steering ratio. Therefore, designing the right steering ratio is critical to meet the vehicle “specific” targets. Significant amount of work has been done by many researchers on variable steering ratio by implementing variable gear ratio (VGR) rack, active steering, and steer-by-wire systems. This paper discusses the methodology and considerations to optimize the steering ratio for a constant gear ratio rack by optimizing the steering column layout, viz., orientation and the phase angle in universal joints. A detailed analysis of steering system layout is done to optimize the steering ratio to enhance the vehicle dynamics performance. Full vehicle-level multibody dynamics (MBD) simulations are done in ADAMS® to compare the vehicle response behavior for different steering ratios in the open-loop objective tests. The Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) results show significant impact of the proposed design methodology on vehicle controllability. When the phase angle and the initial column angle are optimized for a quick on-center steering ratio, the response gains are higher, resulting in a sporty and agile feel. However, when the same vehicle is tuned for a slower on-center steering ratio, the gains are lower, resulting in a sluggish, lazy feel. This methodology can be implemented during the initial vehicle design phase to optimize vehicle performance.