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Volvo's Side-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel Will Move As You Wish
Ever dreamt of leaving the UK for France without feeling like you’re driving on the wrong side of the road? Well, Volvo’s new side-to-side sliding steering wheel might make that happen. It’s already patented, so don’t worry about someone else stealing the technology.

Volvo's Side-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel Will Move As You Wish

Volvo LogoSide-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel DrawingSide-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel DrawingSide-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel DrawingSide-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel with integrated Dasboard DrawingWoman Driving a VolvoVolvo's Current Steering WheelSide-to-Side Sliding Steering Wheel with the New Digital Dashboard Drawing
A recently disclosed United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing shows Volvo is planning on installing a new steering wheel assembly in its future cars. Rather than having just a new funky shape (steering yoke, we’re looking at you), the automaker wants to give you the opportunity to sit wherever you want in the car. Yes, you’ll even be able to drive your car from the middle!

The system is fairly simple. It consists of a steering wheel assembly that’s coupled to a track construction which allows it to be moved laterally with the help of a slider. After changing its position, locking mechanism are available for each side to secure the whole thing into place. Further technical details are available in the document attached down below, but this is the gist of it.

Curiously enough, drawings show multiple application scenarios which, give us a hint regarding what the brand’s cars might look like in the future. There’s an embodiment where the cabin has the well-known layout with the dashboard on the left side and an infotainment display in the middle, one where there are two similar-sized infotainment screens when the steering wheel is in the middle of the car, and another one which shows a huge display panel that stretches from one side to the other. It might end up in production looking like the EQS one but without the central tablet-like layout.

Certainly, given the application of the steering wheel assembly, a wide display would make the most sense here. Graphics can be adjusted easily by making the proper software, while the mechanical side of things is done by the driver with no worries when it comes to switching the driver’s seat for the passenger one. Don’t worry, there’s a solution for pedals too!Driving a Volvo might become cool
Volvo says in its USPTO filing that the invention applies for vehicles that aren’t necessarily going to be the subject of a high level of automatization, but it will serve as a great opportunity for transitioning to these stages where human intervention might not be needed. This tells us that the sliding steering wheel might be found on cars that are not programmed to be launched too far off in the future.

It’d be great to have this option on a V90 Cross Country. You’d be able to go from right-hand driving countries to left-hand driving ones without worrying about safety on the road.

The most surprising fact is the automaker considered even cars with a manual gearbox! The solution they have is comprised of a shifter track assembly that can always find itself in conjunction with the positioning of the steering wheel. With fewer drivers choosing the manual today, an automatic will work fairly simply by just acting as a signal transmitter to an actuator that’ll make the necessary change. If it’s an all-electric vehicle, then it’s even easier to adapt it to various driving positions. The absence of a gearbox makes everything simpler.

Volvo’s all about safety, as you may know already. That’s why the filing shows airbag modifications that will be activated or deactivated according to how the driver chooses his position.

If you’re wondering about sitting in the middle as the driver, then here’s Volvo’s idea: the front chairs slide. They can turn into a big couch for you to sit exactly as you like.

Pedals are another thing entirely. Here we’re met with “accelerate-by-wire” and “decelerate-by-wire” solutions. This means there won’t be a direct connection between the brake pedal and the braking system, for example.Put the pedal to the metal from everywhere you want
Instead of this direct link to mechanical actuators, the manual activation elements (e.g., pedals) may provide electrical output signals that can be communicated through a dedicated system of electrical conductors or via a wireless communication protocol. To offer full control of the vehicle in any kind of scenario, Volvo’s planning on offering three sets of pedals. It will look like a student driver’s car, but we’re confident in the company’s ability to hide them elegantly until they’re needed.

“For example, if the steering wheel is moved to a left side of the vehicle for use by a driver in the left front seat, movable acceleration and brake controls may also be moved to a left side of a front floor panel so that the driver can also control the acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle as needed,” says Volvo in the patent filing.

There are also other solutions included here. An acceleration activator device can become a movable part that’ll be transferred and put into place according to the driver’s wishes. But this poses a lot of problems already, as safety standards might not be in accordance with current regulations. After all, let’s remember it took the U.S. a couple of years to approve adaptive headlights.

The patent has been already awarded, but it was first filed all the way back in 2019. This shows the Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker had some secret plans in place they didn’t tell anyone about. Let’s hope this invention will be put to good use.

Finally, you should remember patents are not a strong guarantee for production. But the fact that Volvo is actively investing in research and tries to innovate shows us they’re ready for what’s to come in the automotive industry. It will be exciting to witness how brands will survive battling each other in the EV era, where engines, fuel types, and noise don’t matter.

 Download attachment: Volvo's USPTO Filing for a New Steering Wheel Assembly (PDF)


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