Publishing the third post in the series “Lomaster”, I want to clarify the idea, but how it seems to me, there is a misunderstanding. This projector is not at all called upon to “overturn the basics” and “open to people” the eyes on how familiar things should act. Rather, it is an attempt to discard quite reliable and high-quality traditional solutions for a few minutes and be a designer who has the freedom of choice and error.
Automotive industry there is only one hundred and a little tail years. And, perhaps, no other “technology tree” in history (well, maybe microelectronics has yet) undergone such serious optimization and has not grown so rapidly. Generations of engineers squeezed everything possible, improving where power, where safety, where the price of the car. In a word, the modern car is a true miracle on four wheels. And the fact that we are accustomed to consider this miracle a routine is just that everyday blindness, against which my “lomaster” posts are directed.
So is there a chance to be “smarter” than hundreds of thousands of mechanics, engineers, designers and just enthusiasts who improved their iron pets over the course of a hundred years? Honestly, there is little chance. BUT! Firstly, the courage of the city takes, secondly, we will have to “break” the standard, mainstream car management, and not all the fun that the inventors have come up with for concept cars and self-made cars.
So, steering, pedals, gearbox.
Where did all this come from?
The progenitors of automobiles, all these 19th-century self-strollers were operated either on the basis of a bicycle — a steering wheel with a direct transmission to the front wheel (usually one) or a steering lever resembling a steering wheel on a boat. The vertical wheel turned out to be a very good idea - in the first place, from the three-wheel scheme at the end of the 19th century, they switched to four-wheel, due to better stability and controllability, thus the bicycle control scheme was inconvenient. Secondly, the vertical steering wheel made it easier to follow the road, which was important, given the ever-increasing vehicle speeds. And most importantly - the cars became harder and harder to turn the wheels with a bicycle handlebar or lever - it became just very hard physically. It should be understood that no power boosters were put in the cars then.
Thus, the appearance of the steering wheel at the very end of the 19th century fully determined the fate of the car in the 20th century. For example, the pedals were the result of the fact that the driver’s hands now became fully occupied with the steering wheel and he did not have time to press the brake lever in the case of a hasty braking. The gearbox also guaranteed fast
shifting in the first place, allowing you to immediately return your hand to the steering wheel.
A hundred years have passed. And we still keep our hands on the wheel. Because it is a good, carefully “licked” by engineers, convenient and familiar TRADITIONAL solution.
What has changed during this time? What are the general claims to the steering wheel?
- In those years, the only way to transmit the control signal to the wheels was direct mechanical transmission. There was no electronics, no hydraulics. It was not a good life that had to lean on the steering wheel - the handling of the car depended on the physical strength of the driver. Now this is simply not necessary.
- The average speed of cars on the highway since the thirties has doubled, since the beginning of the century - three times. The number of cars and, consequently, the complexity of maneuvering has also increased dramatically. This, by the way, is indirectly visible by the number of car accidents.
- Automatic transmissions, ABS and various schemes with a smooth change in power - are used more and more often and sooner or later finally “kill” the manual gearbox, leaving it to any exotic hot rods.
I do not see many options.
- Something like aviation steering-joystick. It's nice that you can embed all the main controls in such a manipulator. Right-left - turns, and back and forth - gas and brake. It is necessary, however, to make the handle much more “heavy” than it is on the plane and to set support on it for the hand so that it does not get tired.
- Control palm. The hand is placed in a special recess, which is the governing body - right and left - turns, squeezing the fingers - gas, pressing the lower part of the palm - the brake.
- Controlling the foot / legs - it is clear that the legs are still used to control, but the pedals now only control the speed of the car. It uses not only the foot, but also turns the legs, giving direction.
These options are good because they integrate all controls in one manipulator. That is, do not get confused what to reap and in what sequence.
I understand that this is completely sparse, and, speaking from my conscience, all these methods have already been implemented in all concept cars, but what to do - as I said before - the steering wheel is a VERY perfect system. It is difficult to think of an adequate alternative. If you have ideas, I will read your comments with interest.
Well, it’s clear, of course, that in the future, in a few decades, fully self-driving cars, which are more likely to be equipped with some kind of mini-joystick, which can be driven in emergency situations, than full-fledged steering pedals, which 95% of the time will be just take a seat in the cabin.