Tesla, despite its many bad ideas, is probably the most influential electric car maker on the market. Credit where credit is due, Tesla’s battery management, powertrain efficiency and charging grid are still the best in the industry and deserve imitation from other brands. However, it appears BMW is looking at the design of the Tesla yoke to steer it and has come up with a solution of its own.
Some new patent filings have been discovered by Car Buzz, which show BMW’s idea about the steering yoke. What is the benefit of adding a steering yoke and why might BMW consider adding it? According to patent filings, this steering yoke features “angle-grabbing elements” for the “steering knob” (so it’s not even called a steering wheel) and the angle knobs appear to feature two pivot points, allowing them to move as a “steering knob” rotates. It also seems that the whole point of this complex steering complex is to provide additional passenger space.
According to the patent, “additional mounting space can be obtained by means of the steering knob”. Therefore, by making the steering wheel a steering wheel, you get more room for the knee during self-driving, where the driver can relax more. But a steering yoke is always a complex proposition. Certainly, they are used in aircraft, where the coupler does not need to rotate 180-360 degrees. So it does not need a top or a bottom. In the car, the driver Must Spin the wheel over 180 degrees countless times during every single drive. That’s literally why it’s direct wheel. It needs to rotate. The wheels spin. Jokes don’t do that. Applying an airplane-style steering yoke to a car would be like trying to use a hammer and chisel to write on a piece of paper—the wrong tool for the job.
Plus, how much knee space do you really add, a few inches? Are those few inches worth having a more complicated and dangerous way to control the car? Why ask the driver to relearn how to operate his car, just for a few more inches of vertical knee space? Do they do abdominal exercises from the driver’s seat while you’re driving the same car? Are those few inches really necessary, even as autonomy becomes more capable?
What’s so frustrating about this is that automakers already have an answer to implementing more interior space for self-driving vehicles – movable steering wheels. How many test cars have we seen that feature steering wheels that retract back into the dashboard or fold out completely? It is not only possible, but rather easy, especially now that wire routing is a more and more popular technology.
The counter-argument would be the speed with which the steering wheel could return to its position if the driver needed to take over? However, the steering wheel shouldn’t shift even a bit until autonomous driving is capable enough that it doesn’t need immediate driver intervention at any time. Until that happens, the steering wheels must remain the steering wheel. Jokes for planes leave them there.
[Source: Car Buzz] [Top image shows the Fanatec Yoke-like steering]