BMW has designed an unusual u-shaped "joystick-style" steering controller for “partially autonomous two-lane motor vehicles,” patent documents filed in Germany show.
The sketched apparatus is described as a “steering handle" that can be stowed away unless occupants wish to override autonomous control.
Earlier this year CarAdvice reported that BMW was in the process of developing a collapsible steering wheel for autonomous vehicles. It is not clear if this new patent refers to the same project.
Reports that either device was designed for the upcoming BMW i4 EV have not been confirmed. Automotive manufacturers often apply for technology patents that could be years away from production or discarded altogether.
Above: The established five levels of autonomous driving technologies
The product's inventors are listed as Julian Eichhorn, Alexander Peters, Zoltan Major, Christian Froemel, and Gunnar Franz.
Today, all new BMWs are equipped with level one automation (driver assistances such as collision and pedestrian warning systems), and several models have level two automation technologies (self-steering capabilities such as lane keeping assistance, and automatic parking).
The German manufacturer’s autonomous technology systems are collectively known as “BMW Personal CoPilot.”
Last year a level four (capable of, but not restricted to, total autonomous driving) BMW 7-Series was successfully trialled as a ride-share car at the #NEXTGen conference in Munich.