Is this the future of UTV steering?
The UTV industry has evolved very quickly over the past 10 years the Can-Am brand has been a big part of that. Now it looks like the Canadian manufacturer is working on something really innovative – four-wheel steering on a Can-Am Maverick. If this ever comes to market, get ready for the tightest turning radius you’ve ever seen on a UTV.
On May 30, parent company Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) submitted a pair of patent applications focused on four-wheel steering and those applications were officially published by the United States Patent and Trade Office on December 5. You can check them out here and here.
Here is how BRP describes the idea in the one of the applications:
The steering system includes a front steering assembly for steering the front wheels and a rear steering assembly for steering the rear wheels. The front steering assembly includes a user-operated steering input device. The rear steering assembly includes an actuator operatively connected to the rear wheels and operable to modify a steering angle therof. The actuator is mounted to the frame and is disposed completely rearward of the rear differential.
And here is more insight in the other application:
A method for steering a four-wheeled vehicle includes: determining a front wheel steering angle; determining a responsive low-speed steering angle being (i) negative when the front wheel steering angle is positive, and (ii) positive when the front wheel steering angle is negative; determining a responsive high-speed steering angle of the two rear wheels, the responsive high-speed steering angle being (i) non-negative when the front wheel steering angle is positive, and (ii) non-positive when the front wheel steering angle is negative; determining a responsive rear wheel steering angle being a sum of the responsive low-speed and high-speed steering angles; and controlling a steering actuator to steer the two rear wheels in accordance with the responsive rear wheel steering angle.
There is a whole lot more information and diagrams in the two applications, but the gist is that four-wheel steering is being worked on. All of the vehicle illustrations feature a Can-Am Maverick, which is a logical place to start. The Maverick if a long machine and having four-wheel steering to help guide a driver through tighter woods trails could be outstanding.
The big trick for the engineers will be figuring out how much rear wheel steering should kick in at different speeds, as you wouldn’t want much of it when you are power sliding around a corner. But engineers are smarter than I am, so I figure they’ll get it sorted out.
Another concern is how much money will this add to the cost of a Maverick? A second steering assembly and actuator will likely add a noticeable bump to the MSRP.
Of course, adding more moving parts to an off-road vehicle means there are more things that can break.
But the good looks to outweigh the bad here by a wide margin. This would be pretty freaking cool technology to have on a Sport UTV. Now we just have to wait and see if and when it will come to market.