Very few people realize how much of current cars is connected electrically and not mechanically. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
Do you like the idea of there being no physical connection between your steering wheel and the driving wheels? There’s already no physical connection between gas pedal and throttle in most new cars. When you depress the gas pedal, the degree of depression is registered by sensors, which send data about that to the computer that controls the engine and it – the computer – causes the engine’s speed to increase.
This is drive-by-wire throttle.
In most new cars, there is also no physical connection between the gear selector and the transmission. When you turn the knob (or push the button) to engage Drive, a signal is sent to the computer, which then tells the transmission you want Drive. When it’s time to Park, you turn the knob – or push the button – and the process repeats. This is also drive-by-wire in that there are no longer any cables connecting you to the transmission.
Now comes drive-by-wire steering, which operates on the same principle. The wheel you turn isn’t connected to the wheels that turn. Instead, sensors register the degree of arc the steering wheel is turned and that data is sent to the computer which, in turn, commands electric motors to turn the wheels the degree of arc the data indicate.
Toyota, via its Lexus luxury division, will be the first major car company to put this system in a production car – which (of course) will be an electric car – the 2023 Lexus RZ. The “of course” being an acknowledgement of the inevitable evolution of disconnection – from driving – that is fundamental to electric cars, which are also the apotheosis of the connected car.