Looks like Volvo took the saying ‘never say never’ a bit too seriously. The brand’s patent application is for a sliding steering wheel. This particular wheel will allow both left-hand drive and right-hand drive configurations.
As per a report published in Motor1, Volvo as of now is not rethinking about tilt-and-telescoping feature. This wheel is designed for a highly automated vehicle. With this, the driver can take control from the either seats in the front.
While one can’t ignore the hype around this steering, it must be noted that not all things that are patented make to the production stage.
As per the patent, the steering wheel on track offers two solutions for the instrument cluster, first is a dash-spanning screen that sits behind the wheel and the second is a small one that slides with the wheel.
It is only obvious that one would think about the pedals. The brand has further in its patent has described pressure-sensitive floor panel sensors across the floor. These sensors get activated by the wheel's position.
In terms of design, the patent also reveals that there are chances of a centre-positioned steering wheel. This implies two possibilities, first being a cantered driver's seat and the second and more probable one is a front bench seat. The patent also has an illustrated rail system designed for the front seats and the gear selector.
Car enthusiasts would recollect that something similar has also been done with Mercedes Unimog. Even though Volvo’s idea is way more sophisticated, Mercedes Unimog does feature a trick steering wheel.
As exciting as this sounds, one has to accept that Volvo is pretty much thinking way ahead of its time. Even though the idea of controlling the vehicle from either side does not sound too strange, the concept of highly automated vehicles’ successful mass production is indeed a far-fetched idea.