BMW Teases New Polygonal Steering Wheel Design
The BMW iNext, slated to start production in 2021, is poised to become the German car brand's technology flagship. BMW calls it "the start of a new era of driving pleasure," and so a lot is riding on how advanced the actual product is going to be. As a teaser of all good things to come, BMW gave a peek of what the steering wheel on the iNext will look like. Suffice to say, 'innovative' is the best way to describe it, and even that may be an understatement.
The iNext will be imbued with autonomous driving capabilities, meaning drivers have the option to drive the car or not. Taking this into consideration, the new steering wheel makes it easy to switch between autonomous and manual driving. As the image below shows, the steering wheel sports rounded sides and flat top and bottom—a shape which BMW claims will make it simpler to regain control of the wheel from artificial intelligence (AI), while also making it a comfortable place to rest the wrists.
Here is an excerpt from the BMW press release:
"With its striking, contemporary geometry, the steering wheel in the BMW iNEXT symbolizes the start of the age of highly automated driving. Its rim is flattened in both the lower and upper sections, while the rounded corners at the sides provide a comfortable hand rest. The advantages of this geometry come into play in particular when switching from highly automated to active driving. As compared to a circular shape, this makes it much easier to recognize the steering angle based on the position of the steering wheel. The moment the driver re-takes control of the vehicle, they can detect the current steering angle instantly--both visually and by means of touch--so as to be able to continue traveling in the BMW iNEXT safely and supremely on the course already commenced."
The steering wheel will also have optical fibers at the side to show different colored signals that inform the driver when it’s optimal to drive autonomously or manually.
Additionally, the new design also allows for easier ingress and egress, while permitting a better view of the instrument cluster, according to the German car maker.