Hyundai Motor Corporation has submitted a patent application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a four-wheel independent steering system. The application is named "Method and System for Controlling In-Situ Rotation Mode of Four-Wheel Independent Steering Type Vehicle," and was published on April 28, 2022.
The system, which incidentally mirrors the GMC Hummer EV's Crab Walk, wants to allow the vehicle to more than just strafe in different directions. It also envisions the vehicle moving completely sideways and in the case of Fig. 1E, making a U-turn in the same position.
The 21-page patent application discusses how the system will work, which we won't deep dive into for now. What piqued our interest are the sideways and "in-situ" rotation, which are both absent in the Hummer EV's four-wheel steering. Hyundai touts that "in-situ" rotation should allow the vehicle to make a U-turn while in an alley. In some cases, the point of rotation can be off-center (see the image atop this story).
Of course, the patent application also discusses the more common uses of four-wheel independent steering currently seen in modern vehicles. These include both parallel and perpendicular steering systems that aid handling in both slow and high-speed situations.
The drive modes in the patent application are controlled by an ECU, which can be toggled through a switching mechanism embedded within the car's gear shifter. The system also uses steering sensors to determine which direction to go.
Of note, the patent application is not a confirmation that Hyundai (and subsequently, Kia vehicles) will get the independent four-wheel steering system. It may or may not make it to production, but seeing newer cars getting the technology these days, expecting the former wouldn't be a stretch. It's just a matter of when at this point.