Jaguar Land Rover has developed a steering wheel which could help keep drivers keep their eyes on the road. It will do so by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right. The research, in partnership with Glasgow University, has created a sensory steering wheel, parts of which can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. This could be particularly useful when visibility is reduced through poor weather or the layout of the road.
The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete. Driver distraction is a major contributor to road accidents around the world and Jaguar Land Rover's research suggests thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road.
The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6 degree Celcius. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change. Thermal cues can also be used where audio feedback would be deemed too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.
Jaguar Land Rover's research suggests thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said, "Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future. The 'sensory steering wheel' is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road."
Jaguar and Land Rover models already boast a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.