Jaguar looks at thermal feedback on steering wheels

Studies show temperature cues for non-urgent notifications less distracting

Published: May 30, 2019, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:53 PM

2020 Jaguar XE

Jaguar is adding a new twist to turn-by-turn navigation, among other driving tasks, including new sensory feedback for the driver through the steering wheel.

Meant as a driving aid to help drivers keep eyes on the road, the new steering wheel, developed as part of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito at Glasgow University’s Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST), uses heating and cooling to tell drivers when to turn left or right. Further development might also see the technology used to alert drivers when the vehicle is approaching intersections, especially in low visibility conditions, such as fog.

“Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover, and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future,” said Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover’s Electrical Research Senior Manager. “Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”

Studies have shown that temperature cues for non-urgent notifications are less distracting than other sensory cues, such as vibrations or audio feedback.

The “sensory steering wheel” uses thermal cues to tell drivers which way to turn, when to change lanes safely or to warn of an approaching intersection. The cues, which involve rapidly warming or cooling the wheel rim up to six degrees Celsius, work on both sides of the wheel. The range of temperature change is adjustable through vehicle settings.

The partnership is also looking at adding the technology to shift paddles to alert the driver when the car switches between autonomous control.