GM has filed a patent application for an adaptive steering wheel rim capable of providing a range of different sizes, grips, and thicknesses to suit the driver’s preference.
The GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 11,433,938 B2 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was published September 6th, 2022. The patent was originally filed on December 16th, 2020, and lists Joseph F. Szczerba of Grand Blanc, Michigan as the inventor.
The patent describes a steering wheel for a vehicle that includes a hub adapted for mounting on a steering column, as well as a rim coupled to the hub with a material covering part of the rim. The invention also includes at least one bladder system between the rim and rim material, plus a fluid pump that can either deflate or inflate the bladder. A control module is in place to modulate operation of the fluid pump.
The proposed adaptive steering wheel rim is designed to provide the driver with a range of adjustable settings to suit their preference and comfort. For example, the wheel can be adjusted to suit the driving environment and enhance driving performance, or to simply promote user comfort. The system will accommodate several different hand sizes and grip strengths, adjusting grip feel, rim grip size, shape, hardness, and texture.
For example, a user may prefer a smaller, grippier wheel for high-performance driving, and a larger, smoother wheel for long-distance trips. While users can equip their vehicle with an aftermarket steering wheel that suits a specific driving scenario, having the ability to adjust the wheel to individual preferences on the fly would certainly be much more convenient.
Other recent GM patent filings uncovered by GM Authority include a gesture recognition system capable of recognizing specific gestures made outside the vehicle, allowing users to control vehicle systems and features (such as the rear trunk lock) through externally mounted cameras.