When it comes to automotive patents, these are usually ideas that automotive manufacturers have when it comes to a new product or design. In the case of Volvo, it's for a new sliding steering wheel assembly. No, it's not a derivative of the common tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel systems that we see today but something else entirely. The Swedish automotive brand plans to make a system in which the steering wheel can be moved across the dashboard to either side of the car. The new system will not only make it easier to adapt vehicles to other markets but opens up a new world of possibilities when it comes to car interiors.
The patented steering wheel systems design already has the future in mind when it comes to autonomous vehicles. In order for this to happen the assembly itself will come with steering-by-wire making it easier to shift it to any side of the vehicle or for a computer to do the steering. The patent puts the steering wheel on a track while offering two solutions for the instrument cluster. A long screen that spans the width of the dashboard can be put into place or a smaller screen can be attached to the wheel and slides along with it.
When it comes to the pedals, Volvo has thought ahead of the curve with pressure-sensitive floor panel sensors across the floor being the source of controls. This eliminates the need for a second set of pedals to be put in place on the other side of the vehicle. These panels will then be synchronized with the steering wheel position in order for the gas and brake pedals to be determined.
A bonus to this new moveable steering wheel system is that a center driving position can be achieved. It could imply that future models may come with a bench seat allowing for more passengers to be able to occupy the vehicle. The system can also work in tandem with a fully autonomous system that will let the vehicle drive itself. The moveable steering wheel can then just act as a fail-safe in case something goes wrong. If Volvo decides to push through with this concept we could very well see its future vehicles coming with this new slidable steering wheel system.