As the car of the future – and the ownership model to go with it – approaches, Jaguar is setting out a vision of a smart steering wheel that doesn’t even live in your garage. The automaker is outlining its concept at Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, a new event intended to explore the cutting edge in transportation, including self-driving vehicles, on-demand ridesharing, and more. First up? Much cleverer controls.
Of course, some might say that, in the world we’re headed toward, steering wheels themselves will be redundant. The approach of self-driving cars would seem like it could do away with manual controls altogether, as occupants rely solely on the vehicles’ autonomous systems to get them from A to B. That’s why Jaguar’s “Sayer” steering wheel isn’t actually found in the car itself.
Instead, it’s the gateway to an artificial intelligence that helps an individual to interact with their self-driving vehicle. As Jaguar envisions it on the FUTURE-TYPE vision concept, Sayer would live in the home where it would be a “trusted companion”, using voice commands. It would also be a way to manage participation in an on-demand car share network.
Rather than owning a single car, the automaker suggests, users could “call upon the vehicle of their choice where and when they need it.” Sayer would end up being the only part of the vehicle that the individual actually owns. It’s named after Malcolm Sayer, one of Jaguar’s designers who worked at the car company between 1951 and 1970.
For instance, Sayer could remind owners when they need to get up depending on their day’s schedule. It could automatically order an autonomous car to arrive in time for their first appointment, too, like Google Now blended with Uber. Since Jaguar is still keen on manual driving being part of the experience, Sayer could even give advice on which parts of the journey might be rewarding for enthusiasts to take the wheel, while less-inspiring sections could be left to the AI.
Jaguar’s approach to future transportation so far has focused on electrification. The automaker plans to launch its I-PACE electric SUV in late 2018, based on an entirely new architecture that focuses on maximizing interior space by pushing the various drivetrain components underneath the cabin. However, Jaguar Land Rover also has a deal with Lyft that will see the firms collaborate on autonomous vehicles.