A steering wheel developed by Jaguar Land Rover could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.

The research, in partnership with Glasgow University, has created a ‘sensory steering wheel’, parts of which can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. This could be particularly useful when visibility is reduced through poor weather or the layout of the road.

The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete.

The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6oC. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change.

The Jaguar Land Rover-funded research is part of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito at Glasgow University as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST).

Jaguar and Land Rover models already boast a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.