Gesture control steering wheel concept launched

Gesture control steering wheel concept launched
ZF has unveiled a new steering wheel concept which incorporates gesture control via graphic displays to enhance communication between driver and vehicle.

According to Juergen Krebs, vice president of engineering for steering wheel systems and driver airbags, "As new automated functions become more commonplace, advanced technologies employed in the steering wheel are important and can help improve driver safety and awareness of the current vehicle control mode."

ZF’s new concept is designed to use gesture control to trigger various vehicle functions as chosen by the vehicle manufacturer. It works 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 centre display and accompanying graphic and light displays.

The wheel uses multiple interfaces to indicate the vehicle control mode. A 7-in LCD display in the centre of the steering wheel rim indicates if the driver or the car is in control. Additionally, an LED light strip is integrated into the steering wheel rim with blue lights indicating autonomous mode, white lights for manual driving mode and red lights for driver warning. Other uses for the light strip include yellow lights indicating left or right-hand turn signals – and glowing or flashing lights to indicate various scenarios chosen by the vehicle manufacturer.

The system also features functions integrated into the wheel including 10 capacitive sensors in the outside rim detecting where the driver is gripping the wheel, and one additional on the inside of the rim detecting if an advisable grip is being employed. This enables accurate hands on/off detection – helping to make clear whether the driver or the vehicle is in control.

The wheel’s configuration presented new challenges as the driver side airbag could not be located in its traditional area due to the centrally located LCD screen. ZF engineers designed a new airbag concept which can deploy from the back side of the wheel through the rim and covers the display, thus helping to protect the driver in case of a crash.

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