TRW develops retractable steering wheel for the elderly, very fat

TRW is working on a fully retractable steering wheel that gets out of your way every time you get in or out of your motor. That could be good news if you like a pie.

Automobiles

Are you too fat, too old or too well-endowed in the chest region to get in and out of your car comfortably? Fret not -- TRW is working on a fully retractable steering wheel that gets out of your way every time you get in or out of your motor.

The prototype steering wheel features "two retractable handles that close fully to create a smaller shape which then folds away into the dashboard". Once retracted, the driver is given significantly more room inside the vehicle, making getting in and out significantly easier.

Once the driver is in place and the vehicle is started, the steering wheel deploys to a driving position pre-set by the driver. 

The system is designed to address the rapidly increasing number of grandmas and granddads on our roads, but could also be used by those with limited mobility or a fondness for cakes.

TRW's Manuel Poyant said: "The automotive industry is being influenced by some key factors, such as a more active older population and the growth of mega-cities. The foldable steering wheel concept is a prime example of technology that allows easier access for elderly people and those faced with mobility challenges."

In addition to helping people get in and out of cars more easily, TRW's retractable steering wheel could give designers the freedom to experiment with new car designs. Poyant believes the system will allow manufacturers to create smaller vehicles that are better suited to built-up cities but just as easy as larger cars to get in and out of .

When can we expect to see this driving wheel cropping up in real cars? Not too long, hopefully. TRW reckons its customers have shown interest in the design, and believes folding steering wheels could be possible "within the next five years".

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