Trying to open a laptop in a car is about as easy as opening a laptop in one of those reduced-size economy class airplane seats, but Ford thinks it can fix that.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published Ford's patent application for a foldable steering wheel. The system itself is pretty straightforward -- the steering wheel has hinges that can transform it into a surface suitable for holding a laptop. Nothing too complex here.
While you might think it's designed with autonomy in mind, since the steering wheel may not always be required, the application focuses more on the short-term. The application mentions people who may want to get some work done in their car if they arrive at a meeting a bit early. Folding the steering wheel into a laptop mount is easier than what I usually do, which involves moving to the backseat and pushing the front row as forward as possible.
AutoGuide, which originally discovered the patent application, points out that it's unlikely to be a production feature because inherent safety risks are just too high. That said, automakers regularly apply for patents on technology if only to prevent competitors from doing the same thing, which is likely what this is.
Nevertheless, it's fun to see just how many different ways automakers can shame us all into getting just a little more work done during the day. Just wait until everyone follows in BMW's footsteps of addinginto the dashboard. Ugh.