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Tesla patent unveils new steering wheel with gesture control, touchpads

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Tesla has disrupted the automotive industry in a very short period. It has pushed the industry into innovations and faster adaptation of electric and autonomous vehicles.

Continuing this disruptive and innovative streak, Tesla recently applied for a patent for a new steering wheel with a touchscreen, touchpads, gesture control, and haptic feedback.

Tesla Patent Details

According to the recently applied Tesla patent, the controls will incorporate the smartphone gestures that almost everyone uses, like swiping and pinching, to transmute instructions. A digitally controlled steering wheel will make navigation more efficient and safer.

For volume control, one needs to swipe up on the steering wheel touchpad. A slide vibrator can send haptic feedback. Visual feedback can be done through dimmed lights.

“a user interface provided on at least one portion of the steering wheel, the user interface configured to recognize gesture movements made by a user, and wherein the user interface allows navigation of a set of controls associated with a menu provided through the user interface based on the gesture movements,” reads the Tesla patent description for User Interface for Steering Wheel.

Cybertruck Tesla

Tesla Cybertruck (Credit: Tesla, Inc.)

The new driving controls additionally come with indicators for selective gear engagement, and these will be placed at the lower end of the steering wheel. Illuminated signs will indicate park, reverse, neutral, or drive modes.

All Tesla vehicles come with a gear stalk attached to the steering wheel, similar to older vehicles and in trucks. With the new steering wheel patent, the need for a gear stalk will be eliminated.

The patent was filed last summer. If the Tesla steering wheel patent is passed, it may incorporate the new steering wheel in its latest Plaid Model 5 or Roadster. Its Model 3 has a very minimal digital dashboard design, and maybe the latest steering wheel can be fitted on this model too.

There's competition too

General Motors wants to do away with the steering wheel altogether in its latest self-driven model. The automaker has put in a request to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow it to test self-driving cars sans a steering wheel or other human controls on American roads. Softbank-backed startup Nuro has also petitioned the agency with a similar request.

Tesla recently unveiled its Cybertruck and racked up more than 190,000 pre-order bookings for the$39,900 pickup.

Tesla is to automakers what Apple is to smart devices. It is leading the race with innovations and may soon be supplying the software and hardware to the rest of the industry to follow.

Wall Street, which till last year was waiting for the Elon Musk-led company to fall on its face, is now showing strong support to its stocks that are showing a constant upward graph. ( a 48 % leap this week itself).

At about $135bn, Tesla is still worth more than Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker by volume, reports the Financial Times.

Tesla has come into its own with the launch of its Model 3 in 2017. Electric car sales make up only 2 percent of all cars sold globally. But almost all major automakers are busy innovating in the sector. Others in the electric vehicle category are Audi, Jaguar, BMW, and Mercedes.

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