Ford has joined the autonomous driving trend, where different brands have simultaneously begun research for practical purposes rather than a playful concept. However, legislators have also been cautious about the support of experiments in the auto industry on self-driving concepts. Though, as technology advances and more self-driving factors and accessories become potentially practical, the more interest the legal world will have as these options head to the clientele. On this note, Ford has received a patent on wheels and pedals which are removable.
Ford Patent Stipulations
Apparently, Ford foresees a period during which cars may not have the need for driver inputs, though they may be required for development or during the request of the client that prefers doing the driving themselves in between autonomous aid or most of the time even. Ford had initially filed the patent in February of 2016 and it was awarded the same patent on 10th of August. Ford does admit that it is not a perfect solution as the designers are going to have to reconsider the manner that they implement airbags that are usually placed on the steering wheel.
The patent awarded to Ford proposes one in both the wheel as well as, the dashboard which is behind it and electronically switching off the latter if the wheel column has been locked in. It also suggests the control of pedals through a spring and gas type of damper or an electric actuator or even software which simulates brake pedal resistance. It also claims the connection openings would also be covered with the use of trim panels that would allow for a pleasing appearance if the components are removed.
However, it is not just about popping the wheel in and out. Such a redesign is going to require a restructuring of the cabin from both a mechanical and an aesthetic perspective. The basis of the original design by the 1900s model T Ford was the steering wheel because it controlled the direction and gave the user a sense of control over the vehicle. Removing the steering wheel will require a complete reorientation of the way that people view travel from being the controlling element to being a passenger. The other issue is, there exists no authentic and natural feeling steer using wire systems. Technology may improve with time though Ford claims the wheel may utilize the mechanical settings through integration with splined shaft. Orientations of safety will thus have to be reoriented to how it would then benefit the passenger in this new setting. For this setting, both the steering wheel and dash would have airbags and in an accident would deploy in either case depending on if the wheel is detected
With self driving vehicles becoming a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’, it is good to know that the Ford specifically, is thinking ahead to accommodate those drivers who would prefer to retain control of their vehicles even if they would like the autonomous backup for when they are tired, incapacitated or just don’t feel like behind the wheel at the time.