Recently, there have been a number of new patent applications filed with intellectual property offices across the globe, with a good chunk of these dedicated to new designs for steering wheels. Many of these have been extremely weird, incorporating all sorts of features that seem a little unnecessary, to say the least. Hyundai, for one, has patented a steering wheel with all the driver readouts being displayed on a screen that takes the place of spokes. But now there’s another new invention, and we think it’s actually pretty good. CarBuzz has discovered that a patent application filed with the German trademark office shows a Mercedes-Benz of the future fitted with a refreshing take on the steering wheel that is sure to blow you away.
The filings suggest what the sketches clearly depict: a steering wheel that can blow air through the ‘pot’ of the steering wheel. Basically, this means that Mercedes wants to channel an air duct towards an opening somewhere behind the steering wheel. This would then disperse air through the pot, or inside ‘bowl’ of the steering wheel (likely from a point near the center of the hub) through “air-permeable surfaces” or materials. The simplest way to describe this would be to imagine the kind of airflow you get from a ventilated seat, only now it’s coming from your steering wheel. As an added bonus, this setup could also heat the air, so you could have the best of both worlds in one option.
Mercedes-Benz has also considered the effect that a climate control system may have, and would temper the airflow and temperature in such a manner that you never discern a clear change in temperature through your hands.
Another possibility is that the system could be adjusted manually, just as your air-conditioning vents in your car are. In this example, a simple lever would control flaps and vanes, so you could decide when you want it to work with no more effort than flicking a switch.
Finally, the automaker has included various possible ways of adjusting the airflow of its invention, giving a driver the opportunity to have targeted air aimed at a small area or spread out over a larger one. For example, cool air blowing directly onto your sweaty palms or all over your upper body.
Of course, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class chauffeur of the future would not be seen dead touching a manual lever, so if it ever makes production, we think Merc will opt to fit controls on the steering wheel itself.