You might have assumed in the autonomous future you will have to choose to have a steering wheel and pedals in your car, or to not have them. Ford has a new patent app that was published recently that shows an autonomous vehicle with removable steering wheel and pedals. This would give drivers the option of actually driving or being driven.
The system has a steering wheel that would likely use a splined system for a direct connection to the road, but could optionally have electric drive-by-wire. The steering wheel could be removed and installed easily and would have its own airbag when installed. When removed an airbag would come out of the dash.
A trim panel would cover the opening where the wheel connects when not in use. The pedals would be similarly removable and could use springs for feedback or electronic systems. Ford says, “steering wheel for development purposes, and enables the easy provision of a steering wheel as a customer-requested option.”
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