Auto manufacturers are exploring any and every possible way to combat distracted driving, and the newest idea comes from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The luxury car company has developed what it calls a "sensory steering wheel" that changes temperature as a method of communicating with the driver.
JLR has been working with Glasgow University and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for years in efforts to discover new ways cars and drivers can work together. In the past, projects have focused on haptic feedback, a somewhat common technology in today's luxury automotive marketplace. But this new idea, part of a Ph.D study by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito, focuses on using temperature.
Essentially, the sensory steering wheel could help to keep drivers alert. Its three core commands would remind drivers where to turn, tell drivers when to change lanes, or warn drivers of an upcoming crossroad. The wheel would do this by quickly heating up or cooling down the left or right side of the steering wheel. It could heat by up to 43 degrees Fahrenheit max, but that could be changed to accommodate driver preferences. Beyond the steering wheel, temperature signals could also be used on paddle shifters.
JLR notes that temperature changes could be used in tandem with haptic and audio feedback or replace it. Some people find the vibrations and loud beeps to be too annoying or too alarming, and the temperature signals would offer a softer alternative.
A steering wheel developed by Jaguar Land Rover could help keep drivers' eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.#Technology #FutureMobility pic.twitter.com/iVbhgUHG6J— Jaguar Land Rover (@JLR_News) May 29, 2019
For now, the idea remains a novel concept. If it did make it into a production car, it'd need to figure out a workaround for one of our favorite features: heated steering wheels.