This looks seriously complex.
Autonomous vehicles are coming sooner or later. It's just a matter of when the technological and legal aspects of the idea are ready for public use. However, even autonomous vehicles will need some sort of human intervention at some point, whether it be to park in an unmarked spot or to move off designated roads. To that end, manufacturers are looking at ways to allow some form of human intervention without taking up too much space, and BMW is one of the companies looking to innovate how cars are steered. Its latest patent shows a complex steering setup that combines a pair of joysticks to drive the car. What car? Possibly the upcoming Tesla Model 3 rival, the i4.
BMW isn't the only company looking at alternative steering solutions either. Ferrari has filed a patent for a seat-mounted joystick while Hyundai's stunning new Prophecy EV concept also wants to remove the steering wheel in favor of a pair of joysticks.
BMW's idea seems to be fairly complex, with U-shaped sticks integrating turn signals, drive mode selection, and other functions too. We don't know exactly how this would work, but the top of each stick appears to have a configurable dial that could control anything from speed to braking. At this point, the full functions of the new steering setup are open to conjecture, but it seems that the way cars are driven could change dramatically over the next decade or two.
Hyundai's attempt at changing steering claims to be "a completely new yet reassuringly familiar and intuitive driving experience." BMW's attempt seems to be very complex and will certainly require some getting used to, but if this setup ever does make it to market, we have no doubt that it will be developed in such a way that makes it easy to learn to use. Nevertheless, these new steering concepts are likely meant to be used as a last resort while autonomous driving will be the chief manner of piloting the cars of the future. It seems that futuristic cars of cinema fantasy will be coming to the real world sooner rather than later.