ZF unveiled a new steering wheel concept aiming at supporting Level 3 and above autonomous driving functionality. The system incorporates gesture control via graphic displays to enhance communication between driver and vehicle, and advanced hands-on detection technology. Level 3 of automation allows a larger range of autonomous functions but still requires human intervention.
Enhanced Interaction between the car and the driverZF’s new concept is designed to utilize gesture control to trigger various vehicle functions. It works intuitively through gestures commonly used on phones or other smart devices. For example, a single tap on the cover could activate the horn, and a double tap or tap and swipe at the rim can activate indicated functions associated with that portion of the wheel rim such as changing the climate control. These gestures are supported and confirmed by the center display and accompanying graphic and light displays.
Hand-over of control between vehicle and driver
The system is also equipped with 10 sensors to enable accurate hands on/off detection – helping to make clear whether the driver or the vehicle is in control. According to Juergen Krebs, vice president of engineering for steering wheel systems and driver airbags, this is a critical step in the progress toward autonomous driving. In fact, the driver may have to quickly retake control of the vehicle if needed. But studies shows that the longer the driver is inactive the longer the time he will need to reach out the wheel again.
“ZF’s advanced steering wheel concept represents an important step in the evolution of automated driving while helping to enhance safety and driver awareness,” Krebs emphasizes. “As we prepare for Level 3 automated functions the hand-over of control between vehicle and driver using highly accurate feedback will be critical. We believe our new concept is the most intuitive and provides the clearest feedback to the driver.”