Tesla has filed a patent to a new steering wheel that will incorporate a number of interfaces to make driving easier and safer for the driver. The user will able to change gear on the wheel, and it will feature touch screens and haptic feedback.
They wrote in the filing:
“The user interface of the steering wheel may additionally include indicators provided at a lower portion of the steering wheel indicative of a selected gear engagement of the vehicle. For example, the user interface may provide illuminated indications of engagement of Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive modes. Additionally or optionally, the steering wheel may include RFID detection and NFC activation functionality.”
Below are the design drawings that show you the features and where they’re placed.
The touchscreens on the wheel will be able to be mirrored in the central screen. Tesla describes how the new wheel can be used below:
“By interacting with the user interface provided on the steering wheel, the user may able to select, update, and/or navigate through a menu of controls. Further, based on the gestures performed on and recognized by the user interface, the user may also receive feedback of the selections made with respect to the set or menu of controls. This interaction of the user may be manifested through gesture movements made directly on the user interface and/or based on indication of the user’s intention to interact with the user interface that may be estimated by ascertaining when the user’s digits approach the user interface. For example, through proximity sensors, the user interface may sense that the user’s digit is approaching a control manipulation functionality on the user interface, causing the user interface to provide feedback to the user.”
Tesla has also released a number of options of how to use gestures for different commands. Find that below:
This new wheel design has the future in mind in regard to Tesla’s next level autonomy.
“For example, when a vehicle supports autonomous driving, the inputs may include more inputs requiring more additional gestures. The inputs may access functionality that would be too distracting when driven by a human driver, even with driver-assist functionality, such as television or other display, or multimedia functionality. In embodiments, the input may be handwriting or other complex gestures.”
This looks to be pretty futuristic stuff, and also quite pricey, so it’s probably best to keep in mind that just because it’s been patented, that doesn’t mean it will be put into a production car. But something like this would push Tesla and its models even further into the future compared to its competitors. And who doesn’t love more touchscreens to play with?