17/10/2012 14:46 BST | Updated 17/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Electrical Steering In Nissan's New Cars Cuts Mechanical Link To Wheels

Nissan is set to launch a new range of cars without mechanical steering.

Instead it will use steer-by-wire systems, in which the tyres are controlled with electrical signals.

The Japanese company will be the first to mass produce cars with the systems installed, even though they are commonly used in aeroplanes and other vehicles.

The new cars will be on sale "within a year" Nissan said.

Usually cars work by physically directing the direction of tyres through the steering wheel. The Nissan system will switch to a digital input which is more similar to a video game controller. It says this can transmit the driver's intentions faster and can communicate feedback more easily to the driver.

Nissan said:

The system controls and insulates the vehicle from unnecessary road-generated disturbances to deliver only the necessary performance feel to the driver. For example, even on a road surface with minor ridges or furrows, the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel tightly and make detailed adjustments, so traveling on the intended path becomes easier.

It remains to be seen if customers are willing to adopt the new system, after several high-profile incidents of electrical braking systems in cars failing and needing to be replaced en masse.

But car experts said they are confident the systems provide real benefits - and could lead to self-driving cars finally hitting the road.