In 2021, BMW will introduce their most advanced automobile to date, the iNEXT. Along with highly automated driving features, the iNEXT will provide extensive advancements in terms of interior design. The first BMW model in which the driver is no longer required to take care of the task of driving but can still actively take command at any time is fitted with a completely newly designed steering wheel.
The steering wheel has a polygonal geometry featuring unique contours – inspired by motor racing – and designed to optimize entry and seating comfort as well as providing an enhanced view of the instrument cluster. The Curved Display was recently teased by BMW as well.
The steering’s rim is flattened in both the lower and upper sections, while the rounded corners at the sides is said to provide a comfortable hand rest. BMW says that the advantages of this geometry come into play in particular when switching from highly automated to active driving.
As compared to a circular shape, this makes it much easier to recognise the steering angle based on the position of the steering wheel. The moment the driver re-takes control of the vehicle, they can detect the current steering angle instantly – both visually and by means of touch.
BMW has inserted optical fibers in the side sections of the steering wheel to inform the driver of the availability of highly automated driving functions by means of colored signals, as well as indicating situations where the driver is required to take over active control of the vehicle themselves.
The ergonomics enhancements come from the flattening of the lower part of the steering wheel which makes for enhanced comfort when entering and exiting the vehicle. It also increases freedom of movement over long distances in that it enables the driver to bend both their left leg – for example when using the Active Cruise Control function – and their right leg.
As we approach its market launch in 2021, we expect BMW to offer more insight into the development of the iNEXT and potentially, some pre-drive tests as well.