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Ford Patents Cars with Optional Steering Wheel and Pedals

| August 29, 2017

Patents

When cars truly are autonomous, Ford still wants to give owners the option of driving themselves around. Why? One day, steering wheels and pedals may just be another accessory,  like the spare wheel: simply in the car if or when you need them.

As we progressively shift towards self-driving vehicles, there will be a number of hurdles to overcome during the transition away from driving. For example, what key features are removed from vehicles and when?

How Ford is thinking about the future and trying to answer these questions is highlighted by a newly publish patent the company filed describing a removable steering wheel and pedals intended for self-driving cars.

The patent describes a system that allows both the steering wheel and the pedals to be attached or removed using a series of locking points.

These patents make many speculate that Ford is preparing for two key scenarios:

The first is internal, and would allow Ford to install a steering wheel and pedals when testing out new self-driving tech in its cars. There’s a chance those tests could go wrong, so having a driver ready to grab the wheel and hit the brakes makes sense. When it’s perfected, there’s little or no need for further testing with a wheel or pedals present.

The second scenario relates to the point in time where driving yourself or letting the car do the driving is an option. Some individuals may want to keep driving, while others don’t. Offering two versions of the same car to cater for this would be expensive. However, if Ford were to make the parts required for driving an optional extra, then only one car model needs to be offered and Ford could then ask for a slightly higher price in return for a “drive yourself” option.

Now that’s steering into the future.

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Category: News, Tech Talk

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