Jaguar Land Rover's sensory steering wheel guides drivers with heat
From virtual windshields to transparent roofs to portable steering wheels, Jaguar Land Rover isn't afraid to get a little creative when looking to the future of automotive design. Its latest concept imagines a potentially more intuitive form of turn-by-turn navigation, gently warming either side of the steering wheel to guide the driver to their destination.
The so-called Sensory steering wheel was dreamed up as part of a research project with Glasgow University and is aimed at the problem of driver distractions, which Jaguar Land Rover says account for 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the US.
The idea is that the steering wheel keeps drivers' eyes fixed on the road ahead by providing them with thermal cues instead of audio or visual ones. It does this by quickly warming or cooling different parts of the steering wheel within a temperature range of 6° C (the actual temperature point could be fine-tuned by the user).
This might be to alert a driver to an upcoming left or right turn as a means of navigation, but Jaguar Land Rover imagines it going a little further than that. It says these temperature cues could be programmed to alert drivers to upcoming junctions when weather and visibility is poor, or when the fuel tank is approaching empty, for example.
It is more or less just a research project for now, but the concept is an interesting look at how road safety could be improved through the sense of touch, much like steering wheels that vibrate. Jaguar Land Rover has also built the tech into gear-shift paddles, which it says could be used to alert drivers as vehicle control shifts from the human to autonomous systems in the era of self-driving cars.
"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," says Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager.
You can check out the promo video for the technology below.
Source: Jaguar Land Rover