Drive-by-wire systems are standard in most cars today.
But what exactly does this term mean? How does it work and what benefits does it provide?
A drive-by-wire accelerator pedal is linked by cable (as usual) to a compound arrangement of linkages. This, in turn, is linked to the throttle valve.
This seemingly absurd complication has profound benefits.
Firstly, the arrangement allows the inclusion of a miniature electric motor between the throttle body and the cable. Secondly, this setup gives the engine management direct access to the throttle.
In a drive-by-wire system, the miniature motor operates the throttle in direct proportion to the pedal position sensor connected to the cable.
So, depressing the accelerator pedal halfway would half-open the throttle valve. The information is then sent to the engine ECU.
The ECU evaluates the condition using this and other input signals. The outcome is to “instruct” the throttle motor. And when necessary, override, the driver’s input.
The aim of drive-by-wire or electronic throttle systems is to achieve optimum acceleration in most conditions. When coupled with traction control systems, it can help avoid skidding or wheelspin.