Jaguar Land Rover says its new steering wheel could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.
The car maker has created the “sensory steering wheel” in partnership with Glasgow University. Parts of it can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete.
According to Jaguar Land Rover, thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road. The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6oC. The temperature range could be adjusted by the driver.
“Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future,” said Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager. “The ‘sensory steering wheel’ is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road.
“Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”