Hyundai considers putting a screen in your steering wheel, patent filing suggests

·2 min read

Car companies seem intent on reinventing the wheel. The latest is Hyundai, which has filed for a patent for a steering wheel with a digital screen embedded in it. It addresses the issue, the company says, of some drivers not being able to see the instrument cluster because its view can be obstructed by the steering wheel.

The patent, unearthed by CarBuzz and filed with Germany's patent office, shows a rather simple diagram of a rectangular screen affixed inside a housing in the steering wheel.

The positioning of the screen raises several questions. For example, how would an airbag deploy in case of an accident? Hyundai apparently has an answer. The airbag is, according to CarBuzz, contained in the steering wheel and spaced far enough on separate mounts so that it can deploy without damaging the screen.

As with Tesla's ill-reviewed yoke, it also makes us wonder what will happen when the car is deep into a turn and the steering wheel is locked on one direction or another. Will the screen display upside down or re-orient itself?

To be fair, Hyundai may have given us a preview of this technology in the 2019 Genesis Mint concept shown at the New York International Auto Show. There, however, the steering wheel appears to be separate from the center-mounted screen with deep spokes. Conceivably, this could allow the wheel to turn independently of a stationary screen, but this is not how the patent illustration is drawn. There, the screen appears to be connected to the round, turning section of the steering wheel.

The setup would also put the screen several inches below an instrument cluster's traditional position. A quick glance at key functions could become a longer gander away from the road.

As with Tesla's yoke, it could be a sign that Hyundai is more bullish on autonomous driving tech than previously thought, in which case the steering wheel is considered a vestigial part of the car that will see little use. If not, though, it seems like an answer to a question no one is asking.

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