The BMW design and engineering team have been busy filing multiple patents of late. But one particular submitted patent has caught the attention of online forum i4talk.com. The BMW dedicated forum has somehow managed to acquire BMW’s patent application for a steering handle system intended for self-driving ergo autonomous or partially autonomous vehicles. A U-shaped steering handle includes joystick grips with a control dial. The application describes how the handle system requires less space than traditional steering systems. Toggles for the transmission and turn indicator systems are located on the handle.
The diagram reveals the steering device in the form of two left and right joystick grip designs, similar to a jet fighter joystick. The diagram shows multi-functional operability in a similar vein to modern multi-function steering wheels. The gear lever is mounted behind the left grip, resembling a paddle shift. Above lie the left and right indicator switch.
It is not known if this particular design and configuration will end up in the current generation BMW vehicles. Semi-autonomous driving technology is available, however, these joystick grip style steering wheels have been on the drawing board for many years and have been used for concept cars for that added wow-factor.
BMW’s steering device may well appear on a future fully autonomous electric vehicle. However autonomous driving technology is still very much at the beginning of its development phase. The computer hardware and processing power required to make autonomous driving a fully-fledged reality is not here just yet.
Once the hardware improves, gets more powerful, that is to say the computer can process at a magnitude many times greater than now, only then will fully autonomous vehicles become superior to that what is on offer at the moment. Remember the early Sat-Navs? How much better has Sat-Nav technology become?
The same rules of constant development apply to self driving ergo autonomous technology.