Jaguar Land Rover has developed a steering wheel that could help motorists to keep their eyes on the road as it could use heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.
Jaguar Land Rover collaborated with Glasgow University for its research as part of its drive to develop the ‘sensory steering wheel’. The components of the steering wheel can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane and to warn them as to when they are approaching a junction. This feature is particularly helpful when visibility is lower due to bad weather or the layout of the road.
The automotive manufacturer has used similar technology in the gear-shift paddles to indicate clearly when control is completely transferred from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles.
Driver distraction is one of the major factors that contributes to road accidents across he globe. In the United States alone, it accounts for 10 per cent of all fatal crashes. Jaguar Land Rover conducted research which indicated that thermal cues could help drivers focus more on the road.
The thermal cues work on both sides of the steering wheel and they indicate the direction in which the steering wheel needs to be turned through rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6oC. The driver could adjust the range of temperature change depending on his preferences.
Studies have also indicated that the temperature-based instructions could be used for notifications that are not urgent as well like notifications regarding low fuel levels, even upcoming landmarks and events in the near future. Thermal cues can also be used to replace audio feedback that could be considered as too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said that safety is the top priority for Jaguar Land Rover. The car maker is committed to using the latest technological developments to continuously improve its vehicles and to preparing the business for a self-driving future.
Mouzakitis said, “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.”
The Jaguar Land Rover-funded research was part of a PhD study conducted by a student at Glasgow University, Patrizia Di Campli San Vito as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST).
Jaguar and Land Rover models already sport a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which are meant to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.
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