TechTalk BMW patent steering wheel

Published on April 10th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


BMW patents a new shaped steering wheel

Reinventing what we are so used to.

BMW recently filed an international patent for a steering wheel with a very different shape. The supposed steering wheel comes with technology that would be advantageous to save space for the development of autonomous driving cars. In 2018 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the BMW Vision iNext concept was equipped with a square steering wheel, making it easy to switch between autonomous and active driving modes.

The leaked technical drawings show a steering wheel that is only classically round and then changes its shape to be an oval shaped steering wheel. BMW submitted these drawings to the European Patent Office in order to receive an international patent for the development of this next generation steering wheel. 

BMW patents new design foldaway steering wheel for Autonomus cars

The shape of the steering wheel, which changes via joints and levers, is advantageous, for example, for autonomously driving vehicles: in the case of a fully autonomous drive, the steering wheel can disappear into the dashboard in a more space-saving manner.

The shape of the new BMW steering wheel changes without the outside dimensions increasing.

BMW steering wheel

Purpose clearly defined in the application

The textual description of the patent comprises twelve A4 pages. Under the heading “Shape-changing steering wheel” there follows a precise description of the functions of the new mechanics in the steering wheel. The core idea is that a single actuator changes the shape. BMW expressly points out the intended use for highly automated or fully autonomous vehicles. The engineer drawings emphasize that there are already shape-changing steering wheels, but that they prefer their proposal for safety reasons: This new BMW steering wheel design consists of several swiveling but rigid parts, which should offer a safety advantage over freely deformable steering wheels.

BHPetrol RON95 Euro 4M

No size increase when changing shape

There are already changeable steering wheels made of rigid rim parts. However, these have the disadvantage that they take on an oval shape, for example, with the distance between the outer ends increasing and so the dimensions in the horizontal direction therefore increase. The new BMW construction offers a solution to this undesirable effect where the oval shape does not lead to a growth in the external dimensions.

BMW Concept car steering wheel
The BMW Concept 6 Series CoupÈ (09/2010)

It is expected that the new steering wheel will appear in the production version of the BMW iNext full electric crossover with autonomous driving functionality. 

About the Author is a service to the public and other website owners. is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within the site While the information contained within the site is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided in this website is correct, complete, and up-to-date. is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained inside.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑