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Joystick Car Dashboard Concepts
|"QUANTUM SHOT" #848 |
Link - article by Avi Abrams
Joyful, Joyful Joystick Driving!
We've seen some fantastic car dashboard, some even approaching Dashboard Works of Art, and we've also seen flashy and wildly over-the-top Digital Dashboards that have been all the rage in the 1980s. Today, we are going to see joystick-based car dashboards, and marvel at some of the audacity in engineering and beauty of implementation of this sort of idea in concept cars throughout the years.
The Honda Motor Company introduced three models with a joystick-based controls at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. Here is the AC-X model, featuring pretty radical "retractable joystick" and "automatic driving" ideas. Even in our advanced day and age, such an approach is still regarded as a "novelty only", something for curious-minded car engineers and designers to play with and explore the limits of technology, but (until very recently) not to be seriously considered for production. The advent of Google self-driving car project may change all that, and also signal a change to a cleaner, more uncluttered dashboard design:
As can be seen from the pictures below, these joysticks will retract when the vehicle will enter the "automatic driving mode", so that the driver will have all the space he wants... assuming of course that in case of emergency these sticks would come back up and allow him to take control? Or does this mean that even in case of an imminent accident, everything will be entrusted to the computer? By the way, the "joystick-driven" car means that it will also be without pedals. No steering wheel, no pedals.
Moving Stick Forward = Accelerate; Moving Back = Brake
Probably the most widely noticed by the public, and all-encompassing use of a joystick instead of a steering wheel in car dashboards has been realized in F-200 Imagination concept car by DaimlerChrysler, way back from 1996:
Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1996, this car was not a true "concept car" in a sense that it would precede a production model - this was rather a one-off research car, simply exploring the possibilities of "drive-by-wire" and the "joystick" technology. It was offered in two configurations: one with two so-called "sidesticks" (smaller "sidestick" was placed in the driver's door), and a more radical model with a central twinned joystick:
Note the video monitor instead of the rear-vew mirror - since 1996 plenty of models feature rear-view cameras, of course, but this model features five mini-cameras always on the lookout around the car. Swiveling gull-wing doors showed up later in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 2003. And the electro-transparent panoramic glass roof has been used in the Maybach Model 62, introduced in 2002. Here is the two "side-sticks" version of the concept:
The car has other cool features, such as the swiveling gull-wing doors and the uniquely designed trunk:
DaimlerChrysler F 300 Life-Jet continued the exploration of "drive-by-wire" technology, being a three-wheeled driving machine - which is even trickier to control than normal four-wheeled vehicle:
Another concept vehicle with a joystick control was the Rinspeed UC, designed by Frank M. Rinderknecht and introduced at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show... So, we just have to ask, is this a Playmobile? A baby toy car, where if you hit the buttons, it will recite an alphabet or play sing-along tunes? -
Some of the joystick driving systems can be found already in use by people otherwise unable to drive cars equipped with a steering wheel. The Elap Joystick Steering System is one such example of handicapped vehicle conversion (more info).
On the right is the another system for joystick driving developed by Nissan, designed specifically for wheelchair users:
Check out the video of this system in action, featuring lots of cogs and gears.
Great Rocket Age Concept Cars from the 1950s already tried pilot-like joysticks instead of a steering wheel
For example, this beautiful Ford FX Atmos featured joystick-based dashboard:
Here is the Ford Seattle-ite XXI from 1962 (absolutely awesome futuristic machine), with funky "missing steering wheel" dashboard as well:
(on the left is another old Ford concept featuring the stick, very nicely done in our humble opinion)
Ford Company's 1960s concept cars were really something to behold; check out this drawing from the General Ford 1960s concept art album (obviouslyu influenced by the FX-Atmos):
The Air Force' "Mustang X-1" with joystick controls
Revealed in 2009, this pearly white hi-tech supercar features full-blown jet cockpit, complete with a single-driver ejection seat in the center.
(images credit: AirForce.com)
In closing, there are some considerations that admittedly have to be addressed before this sort of steering control becomes mainstream. For example, it makes it impossible to turn hand-over-hand, which many drivers will miss. There are other safety, training and public adoption concerns: sure, you can feel like a hardcore gamer driving such a hi-tech wonder, but what if your grandma would need to drive it in a emergency?
Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.
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