Ford has received a patent for a virtual steering wheel that can take over the actual process of driving when operated through a smartphone. With the fast paced development of autonomous cars, this patent will make Ford more prepared for the future.
Just like using a remote control to operate a toy car, this technology can be used to operate the virtual steering wheel of an actual car. According to the patent, it is not necessary that the device in question should be a smartphone. It can be any type of mobile computing devices which comes with a processor and a memory, a display, a touchscreen, an accelerometer and communications capability. These components are all available in tablets and smartphones.
A wireless network like the WiFi in the car and Bluetooth can be used to coordinate the car controls with the mobile device. The mobile device would show a virtual representation of the steering wheel which can be then manipulated to steer the car. The concept is that the device used would detect a request to steer the vehicle, and this would determine the steering angle of that vehicle.
According to the patent, the self-driving vehicle can, under certain circumstances, transfer some or all control of the vehicle back to a vehicle driver, though it did not go into detail as to what these circumstances would be. As the vehicle would not have steering wheels anyway, they would need to be operated through a touchscreen.
We do not know whether Ford would actually work on making this a reality, but the patent does indicate that Ford is preparing seriously for the era of autonomous vehicles.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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