BMW is developing a shape-changing steering wheelMarch 28, 2020
Steering wheels that change shape are most effective in offline driving and in emergency situations. BMW has plans for technology development.
BMW is working on a new technology that will allow the steering wheels to change shape before our eyes. Patents filed by the German brand show a wheel that can change from a traditional round shape to an oval shape using separate parts of the rim that can rotate relative to each other. This can be used to provide more space for the driver when the car is offline, although added safety is the main reason BMW is developing this technology.
Another innovative steering wheel was introduced by the Bavarians two years ago on the Vision iNext concept, when the show car was equipped with a square steering wheel designed to allow drivers to easily switch between autonomous and active driving modes. BMW said its unusual shape will make it easier for the driver to recognize the angle of rotation of the car.
It is expected that this particular steering wheel will enter the serial car iNext 2021 model year, which can carry the iX5 badge. BMW has already announced that the iNEXT steering wheel will be equipped with optical fibers so that the driver can know when autonomous driving modes are available for use, and warns of situations where the driver needs to regain control of the vehicle.
New patents show that BMW plans to step forward in steering wheel technology, and its invention was supported by car safety researchers. In 2017, researchers from Stanford University tested on a bench with a robotic steering wheel that could change shape.
Their tests showed that drivers who were asked to take control of a self-driving vehicle in an emergency responded more quickly to a steering wheel that mechanically changes shape than to a steering wheel that uses flashing LED lights to alert the driver.
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