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Stellantis’ New Yoke Combines Steering With Throttle And Brake Control

Key Takeaways

  • Stellantis patents a yoke-style steering system that controls steering, throttle, and brakes.
  • The unique design uses steer-by-wire technology and would retract into the dash during fully autonomous driving.
  • Unconventional driving method may be confusing, but additional safety prototocols would reduce risks uninted acceleration or braking.


Our sleuths here at CarBuzz have combed the United States Patent and Trademark Office for new technologies once again, and they’ve discovered a new design for a novel take on the yoke-style steering system popularized by Tesla. Like steering wheel designs from BMW, Genesis, and others, the premise for this design is based on the industry someday unlocking the ability to offer true, fully autonomous cars in which traditional controls will not always be necessary. When none of the occupants are in control of the car, the steering wheel would fold and recede into the dash, but what makes the Stellantis patent unique is that this yoke would also control steering and throttle inputs, meaning no pedals would even be installed.


Alfa Romeo

Originally founded in 1910 as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.), Alfa Romeo is an Italian automaker of some renown, having been the brand where Enzo Ferrari plied his trade as a racer and racing manager. Alfa Romeo was formalized in 1920 and became a strong force in motorsport and sporty luxury vehicles, becoming the first F1 Constructors’ Champions in 1950. After changing hands on more than a few occasions over the last 50 years, Alfa Romeo is now under the ownership of Stellantis.

Founded
24 June 1910 (as A.L.F.A.)

Founder
Ugo Stella, Nicola Romeo

Headquarters
Turin, Piedmont, Italy

Owned By
Stellantis

Current CEO
Jean-Philippe Imparato

Push For Throttle, Pull For Brakes

As you’d imagine, such a retractable system would not be physically connected to a traditional steering column, instead utilizing steer-by-wire technology like the Tesla Cybertruck. Steer-by-wire is something several automakers are pursuing for when autonomous cars eventually arrive, but what you may not know is that the idea of using the steering wheel/yoke/controller as a means of interacting with the throttle and brakes is not new either.

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Last year, Toyota unveiled the NEO Steer concept, which uses additional levers in front of and behind the hand grips to control the throttle and brakes, and Mazda has also developed hand controls for disabled drivers. What makes this Stellantis patent unique is that the spokes or grips (Stellantis suggests various shapes for the steering controller) would be pushed to activate the throttle and pulled to put the brakes on. The patent notes that this could be operated one-handed using either side of the yoke.


Some Safety Concerns

It would likely take some time to become accustomed to operating a car in this manner, and we imagine that there may be a need for semi-autonomous driver assists – like automatic emergency braking – to remain active for this to be as safe a system as possible. It’s also worth noting that when a vehicle slows, inertia may cause the driver to push forward slightly, releasing brake pressure.


However, we imagine that Stellantis would perform countless tests to determine the most practical means of operation and could easily reverse the polarity of the design to make braking happen when pushing and throttle happen when accelerating – sort of like how an airplane pilot pulls on the yoke to take off. It’s also worth noting that although Stellantis says the airbag can still be safely operated using its design, an additional airbag may be required to maintain occupant safety when the steering system has been retracted into the dash. With the recent rollout of AutoDrive, Stellantis is making serious progress in the self-driving race, and we can’t wait to see if this design makes it to a production vehicle someday.

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Patent filings do not guarantee the use of such technology in future vehicles and are often used exclusively as a means of protecting intellectual property. Such a filing cannot be construed as confirmation of production intent.

#Stellantis #Yoke #Combines #Steering #Throttle #Brake #Control

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