Under the veils is a smart steering wheel, that slains almost every bit of driver distraction effectively, which Jaguar Land Rover chooses to call a ‘Sensory steering wheel’
The figures of road accidents and wheel-related mishaps have been on a steep rise these days and engineers all over the world are working on tech that could actually bring this down. We now have Jaguar Land Rover taking the game a level or two forth by prepping a highly innovative technology to detect and warn against driver distraction, which is the key cause of road accidents in most cases (over 10% of all fatal crashes in the USA alone).
The technology, christened ‘ Sensory Steering Wheel’, essentially is one that uses heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right, thereby killing any need of the driver having to take his eyes off the road. The technology has been developed through a healthy partnership with Glasgow University where Jaguar Land Rover had recently funded the research of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito, as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST)
The technology incorporates into the steering wheel, a mechanism that could heat up and cool rapidly to let drivers know where to make a turn and when to change lane or even warn them of an approaching junction. This could be of great use during adverse weather conditions and in other low visibility situations.
The tech can also be applied to the gear shift paddles to indicate when the hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete.
The thermal cues can be generated on both sides of the wheel and a rapid variation of up to 6C can be achieved in no time, to guide the driver. Further ahead, the temperature can also be adjusted to better suit the driver’s comfort.
Warnings and signals can also be given as audio alerts or vibrations as has been the case previously. But what makes thermal cues stand out from them is their ability to be purely driver-oriented and non-intrusive into the cabin conversations or media playback.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said: “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.
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.”
Sounds interesting right? Let us hope this tech actually makes its way into production Jaguar Land Rover models so that we have one more reason to rush to the nearest Jaguar Land Rover dealership…