Jaguar-Land Rover believes its latest steering wheel technology could reduce distracted driving, and all it takes are some heating and cooling elements.
The "sensory steering wheel," as JLR calls it, was revealed on Wednesday. The system works by either rapidly heating or cooling a side of the steering wheel to let drivers know when they need to make a turn as part of a navigation route. To JLR, the heating and cooling keep drivers focused on the road. Often, drivers take their eyes off the road briefly to check a screen for a driving route. The automaker's research has also shown audible alerts and vibrations sometimes prove more distracting behind the wheel. In the research, drivers responded well to the heating and cooling feedback.
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When the driver approaches the street or junction where he or she needs to turn, the steering wheel can warm or cool itself by 43 degrees Fahrenheit to alert the driver to make the turn. JLR underscored the sensation happens quickly, and it would need to. We imagine many scenarios in which the sensation is prolonged or vague that could create confusion as to which junction or street is the appropriate path.
Jaguar Land Rover sensory steering wheel
According to the company, the system is also beneficial in poor weather. For example, the sensory feedback could help drivers during heavy rain or fog to know where the correct turn is.
The automaker added the same elements could be added to gear shift paddles for cars that could switch into a self-driving mode. Drivers would know when the car has totally taken over control through the heating or cooling effect. JLR also imagines the technology as a warning for low fuel or a means of calling out points of interest on the navigation map.
JLR didn't say it has any plans to implement the technology in the near future, but it's an interesting, if unproven, way to help curb distracted driving.