Vibrating Steering Wheels Could Provide Distraction-Free Directions

Illustration for article titled Vibrating Steering Wheels Could Provide Distraction-Free Directions

In an attempt to reduce the number of accidents caused by in-car distractions, AT&T Labs, working with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, have created a vibrating steering wheel that provides navigation directions instead of voice cues or an on-screen map.


The prototype wheel is outfitted with 20 vibrating actuators that are each individually controlled. So if the driver is supposed to turn left, they'd feel a counter-clockwise pattern of vibrations in the wheel. And if they need to turn right, the vibrations would instead move in a clockwise pattern.

The system, which helps keep a driver's eyes on the road and reduces the 'cognitive burden' of concentrating on a distracting voice, could also provide subtle warnings when another vehicle has entered the car's blind spot. Or, that the driver is following too closely to the vehicle in front. However, to be most effective it would require all drivers to stick with the both-hands-on-the-wheel approach, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's not always so vigil. [Technology Review via Popular Science]

Image by Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock


Broken Machine

I love my GPSes, but part of me wishes they'd make the damn things illegal. I'm all for not sharing the road with some unskilled driver who now just added yet another touchscreen to the mix of distractions to sap his remaining attention span. Nobody prepares for trips anymore - hell, entering the address of the destination has to be done while on the move, doesn't it?

Well, since that's not going to happen, give me a Crazy Taxi arrow on an HUD. Or virtual ribbon. Shakey steering wheel is not a particularly great idea.