Ford patents removable steering wheel, pedals

Ford getting in early on autonomous car controls

ford no steering wheel

There’s still a fair amount of cynicism around autonomous cars, however Ford believes the ‘self-driving’ car is a big part of the future of getting around.

Now the car manufacturer has got a jump on rivals in the U.S. with the lodging of a parent for a design that would allow owners to remove the steering wheel and pedals from their car when not in use (as seen above).

Related: Data shows drivers don’t trust self-driving cars

Automotive News reports the U.S. patent application describes a dashboard assembly with a “receiving niche” that can receive the removable steering wheel or a removable “filler module” for when the wheel is not in use…

Autonomous vehicles won’t require the use of a steering wheel to pilot a vehicle, Ford inventors said in the filing, but losing one altogether would present major design challenges.

Most vehicle design incorporates the driver-side airbag in the steering wheel, and eliminating the tool would make it difficult to regain control of the vehicle in an emergency situation.

Vehicles without manual steering can place test drivers “at higher risk, as it would be more difficult to moderate or abort such manoeuvres made under autonomous control, or make such manoeuvres with an unfamiliar electronic control such as a joystick.”

The removable pedals may be fixed to the vehicle floor using threaded fasteners and spring-loaded snap engagement features. Sensors would also be employed here, to determine whether or not the pedal is fixed in place, according to the patent.

“We submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business,” a Ford spokesman said.

“Patent applications are intended to protect new ideas but aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans.”

Related: Car interior of the future revealed

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