A sensory steering wheel will keep your eyes on the road
It all sounds rather erotic, doesn’t it? No? Just me then? Alright, moving on. Jaguar Land Rover has developed a steering wheel that could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road. How, you ask?
Well, with heat of course. JLR has partnered up with Glasgow University (I hope you also say that with a Scottish accent) to create what they call a ‘sensory steering wheel.’
BUT HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?
Parts of the steering wheel can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lanes or to warn of an approaching junction. Look, I am not one to judge (ok I am), but really, I feel like these are all pretty simple requirements of actually driving a car and you shouldn’t need a steering wheel to tell you what to do. Granted there are some dumbass drivers on our roads, so I get the gesture. And it will help when visibility is reduced due to poor weather conditions or the layout of the road is confusing.
Driver distraction is a major contributor to road accidents around the world and accounts for 10 per cent of all fatal crashes in the USA alone. Jaguar Land Rover’s research suggests 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 6°C. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change.
Studies have shown temperature-based instructions could also be used for non-urgent notifications, where vibrations could be deemed unnecessarily attention grabbing, for example as a warning when fuel is running low, or for upcoming events, such as points of interest. Thermal cues can also be used where audio feedback would be deemed too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.
Basically, we as drivers, are becoming so bad that manufacturers are having to develop technologies that will help us not be such idiots on the road. I am not sure there is any technology that can eliminate idiots altogether, but I am up for anything that tries.