When your autonomous vehicle will be driving you to places, you’ll have the option to kick back and look out the window.
And the once very important parts of your vehicle, the steering wheel, and the brakes clutch accelerator trio will feel like a hindrance.
And with all the research and development going on, that future isn’t far away.
Considering the fact that their autonomous vehicles of level 1-4 might enter the market soon Volvo Car Corporation has filed for a patent application that talks about a movable steering wheel, breaks, clutch, and accelerator.
By the way, autonomous vehicles are defined by 6 levels of driving automation ranging from 0 to 5.
Level 0 is in the regular cars that we drive, the ones which have no automation.
Level 1 is the lowest amount of automation in a vehicle. It typically helps with cruise control and driver assistance such as steering or accelerating.
At Level 2 the vehicle falls short of self-driving because a human needs to sit in the driver’s seat to take control anytime. Here the vehicle can control both steering and accelerating/decelerating.
The automation takes a leap when it goes from Level 2 to Level 3 & 4. Here too human assistance is needed but the vehicle is much more capable with “environmental detection” and with the ability to make informed decisions.
Level 5 vehicles however do not require any human attention. The vehicle can function even without steering wheels or acceleration/braking pedals. They will be fully autonomous cars.
Now coming back to the patent. It describes a steering wheel which can be displaced from left to right or in the middle. The wheel is placed on a lateral axial track to allow mobility.
As the images below show, the steering wheel can be
The same goes for the floor pane which can be shifted to the side.
This feature will be very helpful to Volvo with level 3-5 autonomous vehicles which will require little to no human assistance.
Apart from that this system will help in car manufacturing too. Countries have different laws according to which drivers drive on either the right or left side of the road.
Accordingly, the steering wheel is fixed on either the right or left side of the vehicle. Through this technology, vehicles can be manufactured uniformly.
Waymo’s self-driving software will be integrated into a new electric vehicle designed for ride-hailing. The new electrical vehicle is expected to be level 4 autonomous.
“Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve road safety to previously unseen levels and to revolutionize the way people live, work and travel,” Volvo Car Group CTO Henrik Green said in a statement. “Our partnership with Waymo opens up new and exciting business opportunities for Volvo Cars, Polestar and Lynk & Co.”
So it’s safe to say that we can soon expect autonomous vehicles by Volvo (probably with moving steering).