Jaguar Land Rover tests steering wheel that heats and cools to indicate driving directions

June 1, 2019

Jaguar-Land Rover has shown off a heating and cooling steering wheel that it imagines could help drivers with navigation directions.

The automaker on Wednesday detailed its "sensory steering wheel," which can heat or cool down in the driver's hands as they approach a junction or turn indicated on the navigation system. The approach is intended to replace audible alerts or vibrations, which the automaker said can be distracting to drivers. Rather than a driver taking their eyes off of the road, the steering wheel rapidly heats up or cools down, based on preference, to indicate a turn of maneuver is upcoming on a navigated route.

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The temperature change is designed to happen quickly and to swing by as much as 43 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The system may also be useful to drivers in poor weather conditions. In the event the road is difficult to see, such as during foggy conditions, the steering wheel can help drivers know where to turn.

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Aside from the navigation aspect, the company said the system could also alert drivers to points of interest on a navigated route, or remind drivers their fuel level is low, for example. In the long term, the sensory feedback could have a place in self-driving cars, too. JLR said it could also fit the technology in gear shift paddles and the heating or cooling would let a driver know the car has completely taken over control of driving.

The automaker didn't say if the concept will head to production.

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