VW patents autonomous tech that puts the driver in control

Driver input works in tandem with self-driving tech.

Autonomous and self-driving technology are often seen as eventually taking drivers out of the equation. Even today with these systems, all the driver needs to do is stay in contact with the car's wheel and the vehicle will do the rest. Volkswagen, on the other hand, isn't interested in removing the human element as the automaker's latest patent reveals self-driving technology that works alongside the driver.

According to a report from VW Vortex, VW recently filed a patent application in Germany for self-driving technology that gives the driver the ability to provide his or her own input without disengaging the self-driving mode. When the system detects a situation with multiple decisions, the technology alerts the driver through the infotainment screen. The driver can then give the system instructions via a touch-sensitive surface located on the top of the gearshift.

If, for instance, VW's autonomous vehicle were to approach a slow-moving car ahead, the system would ask the driver if he or she would like to pass the vehicle or remain in the same lane. The small touchscreen on the gearshift knob would then display an option for the driver to push if he or she would like to pass the vehicle.

VW's patent also indicates that the system will respond to various input commands from the driver. Putting a palm over the gearshift knob, for example, will turn the self-driving technology off and put the driver in complete control of the vehicle. While the patent shows the touch-sensitive surface on the top of the gearshift knob, the tech could go anywhere in the vehicle, as long as it's in an easy-to-reach place for the driver.

VW's approach to give drivers some control over self-driving tech is a nice deviation from the norm. Plus, who is going to fully trust a VW computer after the emissions scandal? Kidding aside, we hope this patent sees some form of production implementation in VW's upcoming electric vehicles.

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