Meet Sayer, the steering wheel of the future

Jaguar Land Rover says steering wheel the only car-part people will own

Published: September 3, 2017, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:08 PM

Sayer steering wheel

With voice control finding its way into many facets of everyday life, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to attempt controlling a car by voice.

Jaguar Land Rover will demonstrate what it calls the future of mobility at London’s Central Saint Martins art, design and technology college this coming week, in a concept called Future Type, and perhaps the biggest part of that concept is Sayer, the voice controlled command centre of vehicles in the year 2040 and beyond.

JLR is imagining that the steering wheel will be the only part of future vehicles that people will own, and everything else will be “rented” as needed. Need an SUV, use Sayer to find the nearest one according to your ride-sharing club; want to go for a tour of wine country in a roadster, just book one and use your steering wheel to negotiate all the twisty back roads.

Named after one of Jaguar’s esteemed designers, Malcolm Sayer, Sayer is the first voice-activated, artificially intelligent, connected steering wheel, able to carry out hundreds of tasks such as keeping your schedules, booking cars or making restaurant reservations, and even allowing you to control the vehicle yourself.

Sayer will reside in a world where vehicles already drive themselves, so really it doesn’t need to exist for what is today’s steering wheel’s main function. As such, it becomes more of an AI concierge, allowing you to simply state your intentions and allowing it to make the arrangements. Say you need to be at a breakfast meeting the following morning. Simply tell Sayer where and when you need to be and it will make sure a vehicle arrives at your door at the time you need to depart, and plot out the best route to get you to your meeting on time, allowing you to take control of the vehicle on the more interesting driving portions.

And because it doesn’t have to suit the specific function of today’s steering wheels — driving the car — it doesn’t need to look like the traditional steering wheel. Instead, it looks more like a modern sculpture carved out of a block of metal.

As for the Future Type car, we’ll have to wait for details on it when it’s introduced, but Jaguar has previously released sketches of visionary designs for the years 2040 and 2050, in vehicles dubbed L-Type and C-XS.