Jaguar Land Rover has developed a steering wheel that can rapidly heat and cool in parts, using a drivers’ senses to pass instructions to avoid distraction by looking at a sat nav screen.
JLR partnered with Glasgow University to create the new technology, which aims to pass instructions to the driver through their hands. For example, heating the right side of the wheel indicates they should turn right at the next junction.
According to the British marque, the technology could be particularly useful when poor weather reduces visibility for a driver, or if the road’s layout is unclear. The wheel temperature can increase by up to six degrees, and this could also be applied to the gearshift paddles in the future, to inform a driver of a handover to autonomous driving tech while on the move.
JLR has stated that its research points to this system being less intrusive than audio alerts or vibrations, making them better suited for instructions where an urgent response is not required, such as the car beginning to run low on fuel or charge.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover’s 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 cue.”
The British marque’s most innovative vehicle to date is the Jaguar I-PACE, which can be found on the market here at Motors.co.uk.