BMW's New Steering Wheel to Be Able to Change Shape

BMW is developing a new steering wheel that will change shape independently while driving.

Auto Express has discovered BMW's patent application for shape-shifting steering wheels. According to the sketches, the company is developing a technology that allows the steering wheel to change its shape independently while driving. When switching to autonomous control, the steering wheel will take on an oval shape, signaling the driver that a driving mode has been changed. Moreover, the transformation from a traditional circular shape to an oval shape is carried out by moving parts of the rim that pivot in relation to each other.

BMW's New Steering Wheel to Be Able to Change Shape photo 2

BMW’s idea of creating a shape-shifting steering wheel was prompted by a 2017 study of Stanford University. It involved two groups of drivers. The first used a robotic steering wheel with a changing geometry; the second was notified of the transition to autonomous control mode by a light indication. As it turned out, drivers reacted more slowly to light signals than to a shape-shifting steering wheel. When the driver needs to take control in emergency situations, this delay can be fatal.

BMW showed the Vision iNext concept with a square steering wheel at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show. According to the developers, the unusual shape will make it easier for the driver to recognize the car's turning angle. It is expected that this steering wheel will be installed in a production variant of the iNext. The production model will be released in 2021 under the name BMW iX5. Earlier, BMW said that the iNext’s steering wheel will be equipped with optical fibers. They will signal the driver to change a driving mode and take control.

BMW Patent Application for iNext Steering Wheel BMW Patent Application for iNext Steering Wheel

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