It is not uncommon for manufacturers to file patents for more or less unusual and revolutionary technologies. While this does not always mean production over time, it is above all a way of protecting an idea, which could be used a few years later. Anyway, as car enthusiasts, it is always interesting to look at these documents, which can sometimes hide real nuggets, like the one we are talking about today, and which comes to us from at Volvo. The Swedish brand is indeed known for its many innovations, starting with the seat belt in its modern form, patented by the manufacturer in 1959 and installed as standard for the first time on the car. Volvo Amazon the same year. This time, the invention we are presenting to you should not save lives, but nevertheless deserves attention, especially for its original appearance to say the least.
And for good reason, it is an unprecedented system of sliding steering wheel, capable of crossing the dashboard from right to left. A device which does not necessarily seem essential at first glance but which could prove to be very practical for the manufacturer, thus optimizing time and costs on the production line. Indeed, depending on the markets where the vehicles of the range are sold, they must be adapted with the steering wheel located on the left or on the right. With this system, the production chain would then be simplified, while allowing many constraints to be overcome when designing vehicles. For its part, the gearbox would then be directly connected to the steering wheel, with probably a selector installed on the latter, as is already the case on certain models, in particular at Mercedes or Tesla, via a commodo allowing to choose between walking forward and reverse, among others.
Towards the autonomous car?
What about the pedals, which cannot be moved? These would simply be replaced by an intelligent floor, which would then be pressure sensitive, like physical controls. This floor would then adapt to the position of the steering wheel, and could make it possible to offer several configurations for the passenger compartment, for example with a single seat located in the center, like the Mclaren f1. But this sliding steering wheel, of which all the technical details related to its operation have not yet been detailed, could notably find its use in the development of the autonomous car. Driver action would then still be necessary at times, and it will then be possible to pass the wheel to the passenger (who has the license to drive, of course) if the driver is reading or resting.
It remains to be seen if Volvo will ever offer this astonishing sliding steering wheel in a production vehicle. In the meantime, we could first discover a concept car using this technology, in order to see what it would look like in a more concrete way.
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