Engineers at Ford have gazed into the future with the latest patent filed by the automaker. The system shows an interior dashboard that involves a removable steering wheel and pedals for self-driving cars.

First discovered by Motor1, the patent states the removable driver functions would be beneficial for "development purposes" and "enables the easy provision of a steering wheel as a customer-requested option.” That's right, Ford seems to imagine a future where a steering wheel and pedals are customer options, not standard. Freaky.

The assumption with this system is that Ford would use a steer-by-wire system to allow easy connection of the wheel and pedals. The technology is far from perfect today, but who knows what might be accomplished in the coming years. Additionally, two driver airbags are present: one in the steering wheel and one in the dashboard when the steering wheel is unattached. Per the patent description, a sensor would tell the vehicle which airbag to deploy, whether it's the steering-wheel or dashboard-mounted airbag.

Ford removable steering wheel and pedals patent

Ford removable steering wheel and pedals patent

Ford imagines the steering wheel would attach via brackets niches on the dashboard that would otherwise be covered up by interior trim pieces when not in use. The pedals, meanwhile, would use fasteners and spring-loaded snap engagement.

It's not the first intriguing patent Ford has filed as of recent either. In recent years, the Blue Oval filed to patent steering wheel-mounted gear selector controls, an integrated bike rack, heat graphics, and even a turbocharged-pushrod V-8 engine.

Don't expect Ford to ditch manual controls anytime soon. Self-driving cars have made strides in recent years, but they're far from becoming commonplace.