Autonomous vehicles are going to be the future of transportation. Or at least partially autonomous ones. And a lot of those we are already seeing around us today. But an SAE level 5 automation is still a distant dream. Until then, partial manual control or at least some form of human intervention will still be needed. But that doesn’t mean the control interface has to be the same. In a substantially advanced self-driving vehicle of the near future, we can quite possibly replace the steering wheel with some other form of control mechanism. One such concept has been developed for BMW by designer Lars Welten while interning there.
Lars draws cues from Oculus Rift’s VR controller to build the form of the joystick and embeds within it the signature design language of the BMW brand. The output is an astonishing product that molds the polygonal surface features quite well into a demanding ergonomic layout. He visualizes the use of concrete/stoneware material as the highlight of the rich design with other parts made in anodized aluminum and polycarbonate. The use of leather and Alcantara adds to the premium feel that goes well with the luxury interiors of BMW’s autonomous vehicles.
Remember, autopilot, be it in cars or airplanes, is just a commonplace terminology. And it doesn’t mean that the vehicle can run completely on its own. That kind of technology has not been developed yet. But little advancements over time like this concept joystick will surely take us there someday. In fact, BMW has applied for a patent of an airplane like steering joystick quite recently. The future might be closer than we think!
Designer: Lars Welten