As car companies log more and more miles on self-driving prototypes, we’re quickly finding out that there’s not much middle ground between humans driving cars and robots driving cars.
Ford, for instance, has recently given up on a lot of its semi-autonomous driving tech, finding out that once a car can kind of sort of drive itself, the human sitting behind the robot-controlled steering wheel falls asleep. Any time the car’s electronic brain asks the human to take over, the car has to contend with a dozing engineer.
It’s not good and it doesn’t look good for car companies trying to edge their way into not-quite autonomy.
But people still seem to be scared about having no steering wheel at all, so it seems like the easiest solution is to give humans a retractable steering wheel. The steering wheel is not needed. The car can drive itself. If the human wants to drive, though, the human may do so.
That’s what we’ve seen from Volvo before and it’s what Peugeot just showed today in the Instinct concept. It’s not exactly the most daring car design-wise, kind of looking like a Toyota 86 if somebody turned it into a four-door wagon. There’s little else groundbreaking inside the car, with your usual sustainable materials mesh whatever interior.
What’s interesting is again we see the retractable steering wheel. Peugeot also claims this concept has some ‘smart’ computing built into when the wheel goes back up:
This intelligent technology means PEUGEOT INSTINCT can adapt to match certain behaviours. For example, it can read data from a smartwatch and configure its settings to ‘Autonomous Soft’ mode to give the driver a relaxing ride home after a trip to the gym. Or, through the synchronisation of the driver’s diary and the vehicle navigation system, the driver is prompted to set off for an appointment 15 minutes earlier, to allow for the traffic and weather conditions at that time of day.
As retractable screens and dashes become increasingly common in cars even today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a retractable wheel solution like this in the near future.