Jaguar Land Rover's 'Hot' New Idea: Sensory Steering Wheels

jaguar land rovers 8216 hot new idea sensory steering wheels

With automakers perpetually promoting daft new technologies as a way to appease investors, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new idea that made us take pause and wonder why nobody else had come up with it first. Fortunately, Jaguar Land Rover has done us a solid, with research help from Glasgow University, and delivered a “sensory steering wheel” aimed at giving drivers silent feedback through temperature variances.

The applications of the device are yet to be settled upon but JLR has suggested that the wheel could be used to notify the driver of less-pressing issues that don’t warrant an audible announcement or even offer silent turn-by-turn navigation.

For navigation, JLR said the vehicle could indicate the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side of the wheel by a difference of up to 6o degrees Celsius. The manufacturer said this feature would be especially useful in low-visibility situations where speed is not a factor and a driver can’t risk taking their eyes off the road to check a map. As someone who almost never turns on audible directions, this author also believes the system could provide useful preemptive turning alerts that would lessen the need to check the map on a regular basis during normal driving as well.

Distracted driving is a real and seemingly growing issue but JLR feels that something like this steering wheel could be a useful tool in mitigating it. It claimed that 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. were the result of unfocused motorists and suggested that a heated wheel could be used to convey pertinent information in a less-jarring manner. While it suggested specific notifications, such as low-fuel announcements, datebook reminders, and alerting drivers to nearby points of interest, there really is no limit to how it could be used.

“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,” JLR Electrical Research Senior Manager Alexandros Mouzakitis said in a statement. “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 … Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”

While this appears to be an evolution of Jaguar Land Rover’s earlier work with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, most of which previously dealt with haptic feedback, the sensory steering wheel would likely work in tandem with existing systems. JLR also said the technology could be applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when the handover from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles has completed.

Honestly, the only real conundrum is figuring out how effective the feature would be during those cold winter months where you’ve already got the wheel set to maximum warmth. But the system is supposed to be able to tailor to individual needs, meaning it’d be up to you to suss that out. Regardless, we’re curious to see what this would be like in a production vehicle and hope Jaguar Land Rover pulls the trigger on this one.

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.

— Jaguar Land Rover (@JLR_News) May 29, 2019

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • RHD RHD on May 31, 2019

    This sounds dead in the water. Just because they thought of it and can do it doesn't mean that they should. I'm all for innovation, but this isn't the next Hot Cheetos. How about Matt Posky lives with this for a few months and gets back to us? The enthusiasm just might be a bit toned down by then.

  • RHD RHD on May 31, 2019

    This sounds dead in the water. Just because they thought of it and can do it doesn't mean that they should. I'm all for innovation, but this isn't the next Hot Cheetos. How about Matt Posky lives with this for a few months and gets back to us? The enthusiasm just might be a bit toned down by then.

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.