Tesla is well-known for their out-of-the-box thinking, and while sometimes those kind of ideas can fall flat of their face, sometimes they don't.
More often then not, I think Tesla's unique ideas have worked as the company has forced the hand of other car manufacturers such as Porsche, BMW and now GM to jump into the electric vehicle game. For this reason, it's a great idea to keep an eye on what the company decides to patent as it can give clues towards what it might have planned for future vehicles.
Electrek noticed a new Tesla patent for a steering wheel, and according to the patents description "An interactive user interface for a steering wheel is provided. A user interface is provided on one or more portions of the steering wheel. The user interface recognizes gesture movements made by a user thereon. The user interface allows navigation of a set of controls associated with a menu provided through the user interface based on the recognized gesture movements."
The patent also states, "The user interface of the steering wheel may additionally include indicators provided at a lower portion of the steering wheel indicative of a selected gear engagement of the vehicle. For example, the user interface may provide illuminated indications of engagement of Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive modes. Additionally or optionally, the steering wheel may include RFID detection and NFC activation functionality."
Judging on the above image, which has been taken from the patent, we can see that Tesla seems to be planning on bringing gear indicators to the steering wheel. It also seems that from the patent's description, drivers will be able to make gestures with their hands to interact with the steering wheel. Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but it's certainly an interesting step that Tesla is taking to bring a new steering wheel design it's future vehicles.
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