The General Motors Design team showed off an innovative steering wheel concept for a future fully autonomous vehicle on its Instagram page this week.
This rectangular steering wheel (if we can really even call this a “wheel”) looks more like a handheld gaming system rather than a device used to control a passenger vehicle. The wheel features leather-wrapped grips on either side, along with a widescreen digital display in the center. Two switch panels flank the display, with P-R-N-D gear selection buttons on the left-hand side and what appears to be a thumbstick toggle on the right. There are also physical ‘Home’ and ‘Menu’ buttons positioned on the lower left and right-hand sides of the display screen.
GM Design shared two photos of this steering wheel. The first photo demonstrates how the steering wheel would appear if the vehicle was in fully autonomous mode, showing a digital interpretation of the vehicle and what its cameras, radar and lidar sensors are seeing. The second shows how the wheel would look if a human was driving, placing the vehicle’s ground speed and selected gear in the lower-left corner and providing a forward-facing camera view of the road ahead.
Another interesting aspect of this wheel are the status lights, which are reminiscent of the steering wheel status lights used on GM vehicles equipped with its hands-free Super Cruise technology. The lights will illuminate fully on either side when the vehicle is in autonomous mode, letting the occupants know the vehicle has full control. In human driving mode, orange status lights appear on the right-hand side of the wheel, likely to demonstrate the distance to the traffic ahead.
A fully autonomous passenger vehicle is still quite a long way out, so it’s doubtful we’ll see a rectangular steering wheel like this on a GM production car anytime soon. That said, it’s still interesting to see GM designers working out ways to integrate future tech into passenger vehicles.