Future Volvo models will be able to adapt to any side of the roadOctober 2, 2020
Everyone knows how uncomfortable it can be to be in a country where the steering wheel in cars is “on the wrong side.” At the same time, converting a vehicle with a left-hand drive into a right-hand drive car is usually very costly, and the result does not always satisfy the consumer.
But what if a single car could offer both left and right hand drive without any modifications? Volvo’s latest patent filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) aims to do just that, and showcases a design in which the main vehicle controls can be moved from one side of the vehicle to the other.
In addition to eliminating the need to offer separate RHD and LHD versions of the same model, the interior design is designed with an emphasis on the unique requirements of fully autonomous vehicles. Although Level 5 autopilot has yet to be launched, a Volvo patent allows the driver to take control of the vehicle from time to time, even when not in the driver’s seat.
Since advanced autonomous technology does not require constant control from the driver, in theory, you can either move the main controls or completely remove them, as Bentley once proposed a retractable steering wheel. A Volvo patent describes a steering wheel that can be moved from one side of the dashboard to the other along a rail. It can even be placed in the center of a vehicle with a front bench seat.
As for the pedals, regular pedals can still be used, but special floor panels with full-width touch pads will be aligned with the steering wheel position, allowing you to operate the pedals from any seated position. The patent details a rail system for both the gear derailleur and the seats so that they can also be moved.
The patent also has a section on an airbag system that can detect the position of the driver / passenger seat and thus deploy the correct airbags in the event of an accident. The latest patent could be a game changer for future fully autonomous vehicles, but it is not known how far we are from a Volvo that adapts equally to either side of the road that countries travel on.
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