Those who have sat behind the wheel of a Tesla over the past few years have probably had a little futuristic impression at the sight of the Yoke concept steering wheel, a steering wheel different from what we have always known until now. To give you an idea, imagine a traditional steering wheel, but with half of the top removed, allowing the driver to have a clear view of the dashboard and the road.
But we haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until you take a look at what BMW has imagined for the cars of the future. The German firm is stepping up its style here by offering a steering wheel with an unusual design, which is described as a “steering handle” and which can be operated with one hand.
The steering wheel was actually created precisely with this intention of allowing the driver to never move their hands from the controls, no matter what movement they are making.
Obviously, this steering wheel was also designed for drivers who will eventually find themselves at the controls of an autonomous car. Therefore, when the owner of such a car wants to drive 100% autonomously, he can simply retract this steering wheel to completely clear his view and his space.
The driver will suddenly be quite comfortable reading his newspaper, snacking a little or consulting his laptop. Rather practical.
Style and discretion
So, what does this steering wheel look like? Let’s say right off the bat that it has no ups and downs. To get a mental picture, think more about racing car steering wheels.
First, it has a wide crossbar on which there is, at each end, an L-shaped handle that can pivot on itself and can be operated with one hand. Two movable handles, therefore, connected to a large central element.
During the launch of the Tesla Model S and its famous Yoke steering wheel, the manufacturer had received several criticisms claiming that it was not very ergonomic, not to mention that it guaranteed neither grip nor definition of the right angle during the driving. BMW has taken care to dissociate itself from these irritants.
With its steering wheel, the principle of the wheel will also remain quite familiar to users, in accordance with what we have always known. Raise your left hand to turn right, raise your right hand to turn left. You will have understood that everyone will easily find their way around.
The advantage of this design is elsewhere. With this steering wheel, the novelty is rather interesting because the driver will be able to rotate 90, 180 or 270 degrees without changing the position of a single finger.
Finally something new after more than a century
It is precisely in anticipation of autonomous cars that some manufacturers, like BMW, are currently thinking about how to transform the steering wheel that we have always known. All alive that we are, we have always faced the same traditional steering wheel model.
According to specialists, this steering wheel appeared in our cars in 1898 thanks to the French manufacturer Panhard, who then proposed a round control to provide steering. This replaced the classic lever used until then on cars, a lever which dated from the invention of the automobile.
Over the past few years, manufacturers have repeatedly filed patents to come up with a new steering wheel, but none have been adopted. Therefore, hardly any changes have been made till date. However, even if it is obvious that everything is about to change, we will still have to have a little patience, because everything is not over.
At the moment, BMW’s steering wheel of the future is still only at the patent stage. It will be a while yet before we see it in our cars. But it’s very promising and I can’t wait to try it.
In fact, this steering wheel is without a doubt the one that comes closest to the steering wheels that we racing drivers use in our cars. What a fabulous idea from BMW to come close.
Obviously, the buttons are not the same as those found in our racing cars, but I have the impression that the feeling will be similar. I already imagine that the positioning of the hands should allow good handling of the steering wheel and a solid grip. The driving position should also be advantaged.
For the moment, nothing indicates that BMW wants to market this steering wheel in the near future, but now that we imagine the future with this type of equipment, we can expect that in the next few years , the steering wheel style of cars evolves according to this trend and that it will change more and more with the advent of self-driving cars.