One of the world's largest automotive steering suppliers, JTEKT, is looking into new products in the midst of autonomous vehicles.

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In a new article by industry journal Automotive News, Tetsuo Agata, president of JTEKT Corp, said the company is looking at next-generation systems that will be better suited for automated driving and advanced safety systems.

Key developments include redundancy systems and steer-by-wire technologies, the former improving the safety of autonomous vehicles, while steer-by-wire makes them more fun and easier to use, Agata added.

Redundancy systems are the backups that engage to steer the vehicle if the main autonomous functions fail, and are critical as they enable the car to be driven safely on its own.

Autonomous driving

"That is the reason for autonomous driving," Agata told Automotive News. "If you are grabbing the steering wheel, you are the redundancy system."

Agata added that autonomous steering systems need software and hardware backups - like a backup circuit to fill in when the main one breaks, while a second steering motor is needed to step in if the first on malfunctions.

According to the report, JTEKT is working to develop these systems for a launch as early as next year to meet automotive manufacturer goals of releasing fully-autonomous vehicles around 2020.

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"We have to finish some kind of units around 2018 or so. Then we can approach customers," said Agata.

"We have to be a bit ahead of the OEMs. It's the way for us to survive."

 JTEKT makes around a quarter of the world's steering systems and supplies the Toyota Group.