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How to Switch Drivers Without Exiting the Car

John Day

John Day

Posted Mar 19, 2014

We’re seeing more and more advanced automotive concepts, and one that caught our eye this week came from TRW Automotive Holdings. They have a new steering wheel concept that they showed recently on the Rinspeed XchangE showcar at the Geneva Auto Show.

What more can be done with a steering wheel, we wondered; it turns out, quite a lot.

The wheel’s multi-functional features include hands on/off detection to support the driver during semi-automated and automated driving situations. The driver can choose to drive the vehicle, pass control of the vehicle to the front passenger, or have the vehicle drive itself in automated mode.

A Drive Mode Manager (DMM) display, located at the top of the steering wheel, is set to “A” when the car is in automated mode. When the driver is ready to resume control and touches the wheel, the display changes to “M” (manual). “PTD” (Push to Drive) hands control back to the driver. Hands back off the wheel and the car returns to its automated mode.

TRW says certain controls can be eliminated or packaged into the steering wheel, which frees up space

in the car’s interior. In the XchangE vehicle they were able to remove the center console and integrate the gear shift into the steering wheel, plus the horn, and turn signals.

trw 9510-14 TRW Steering Wheel Concept_XchangE 2“Our steering wheel concept redefines the conventional role of the steering wheel as cars evolve and as a result can help to reduce some of the driving tasks and increase comfort,” said Guido Hirzmann, TRW group leader, new technology, Mechatronic.

It might take some getting used to, and there’s still something to be gained in stopping for coffee, at least, but we’re likely to see more of this kind of technology in the not too far distant future.

Rinspeed XchangE showcar, steering wheel concept, Geneva Auto Show, TRW Automotive Holdings

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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