Patents suggest your next Ferrari could be driven like a fighter jet.
Motorsports generally serve as the testbed and inspiration for many road-going automotive technologies. It's where we got disc brakes and ABS from, among numerous other technologies. But sometimes, manufacturers take inspiration from other sources, and Ferrari's latest patent seems to have been heavily influenced by another sort of sport, the realm of e-sports.
Imagine driving a Ferrari F8 Tributo with no steering wheel and no pedals. Not an autonomous car with reclining seats like a Porsche, no, actually driving a Ferrari yourself. How, you might ask? Well according to a recent patent made by the Italian manufacturer, they want you to pilot your next Italian supercar with a joystick.
The patent was filed with the US patent office way back in April of 2019, but it was only published on October 31, detailing a "method and device for controlling a car, in particular a sport[s] car". The relatively simple patent details that the joystick would have forward and backward tilting action to control braking and acceleration, and left and right tilt to control steering inputs. When the car is on the move, releasing the joystick would see the car continue at the same speed until further adjustments are made.
Unlike a fighter jet, the patent image supplied by Ferrari shows the joystick mounted on the right-hand side of the driver's seat. That would mean the space ahead of the driver would be completely open, devoid of both a steering wheel and pedals. But it also means that there are no gearshift paddles and no manual shifter. Cars have used jet-inspired steering controls before, but they've usually been integrated into a more typical steering wheel-type setup.
This could mean a couple of things, the first being that, should Ferrari actually put this into production, any gearbox in use would have to be fully automatic with no manual option, or at least no traditional manual option. Buttons could perhaps be integrated onto the joystick, but this could make things even more complicated. Instead, we think this patent might suggest Ferrari is looking to build a full EV, as the lack of a traditional gearbox means there's no reason to shift gears at all.
The patent documentation has details that suggest this may be the case, claiming that the system can be integrated with regenerative braking for substantial deceleration. That means this setup won't be implemented in a combustion-powered car like the F8 but might be implemented in further derivatives of the SF90 Stradale.
We're not exactly certain replacing a steering wheel with a joystick will be a great idea, though. After all, the steering wheel provides a lot of feedback, as do the brake and gas pedals. By moving all that control to just a joystick, you'd be losing loads of feedback as a driver, which goes against the very ethos of Ferrari's emotive and involving driving experiences.