Designers Reinvent the (Steering) Wheel for the Age of Autonomy

Posted January 18th 2017


via Wired

The designers drawing up the future of the auto industry have a problem. Cars are learning to drive themselves, but for the near future, they’ll rely on the onboard human to do some of the work. Whether it’s traffic signals that have crapped out, snow hiding the lane lines from cameras, or kittens playing in the intersection, the real world will continue to stump robots.

Problem is, humans are godawful backups. As they learn to trust their autonomous systems more, they’ll pay attention less. And that means the car must be ready to wrest its human’s eyes away from their phone and onto the road, so they can figure out what needs doing.


To bridge the communication gap between the autonomous car and the attention-deficient “driver” of the future, Autoliv has designed a prototype wheel that uses infrared sensors to determine whether or not the driver’s hands are at the ready. The wheel also communicates with LED lights and will speak to the driver to alert him or her when attention is needed. WiredJack Stewart shows you how the prototype works in the video below.