Ford Authority

Ford Patent Filed For Virtual Steering Wheel Controls

Ford Motor Company has filed a patent for a steering wheel with virtual controls, Ford Authority has learned.

The patent was filed on August 11th, 2021, published on February 24th, 2022, and assigned serial number 0055482A1.

The Ford Authority Take

Over the past several years, a number of automakers have replaced physical buttons – including some on steering wheels – with capacitive controls or even small screens. That appears to be the case with this new Ford patent, which depicts a steering wheel with virtual controls that take the place of physical buttons for things like audio systems, cruise control, and/or Sync-related controls.

In some models – like the recently-revealed international market 2023 Ford Ranger – FoMoCo has already begun removing physical controls and replacing them with controls in the vehicle’s touchscreen, a move that has drawn the ire of quite a few folks in recent years. Regardless, this trend appears to be here to stay, as it’s become more and more prominent in recent years.

In this patent, we can also see that Ford is thinking about taking frequently-used controls and replacing them with a virtual image of the switch set in a vehicle’s digital information display. When the function is displayed on the screen, the graphics are removed from the control itself, which allows the driver to more easily interact with it and perhaps stay focused on the road rather than having to hunt for a switch or control.

In theory, this could help keep a driver from looking down and searching for buttons on the steering wheel, though the same can be said of physical controls once owners get used to their location and feel. Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a feature like this appear on future Blue Oval models in some capacity.

We’ll have more on this and all Ford patents soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford trademark news, Ford business news, and non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Ford Owner

    The driver is still looking away from the road ahead so it is not better than physical controls. Voice commands are not perfect, either.

  2. Montana Man

    I’m skeptical, but it’s technology still in development.
    Filing a patent application does not mean the product or service will come to fruition.
    It took no time for me to get ergonomically accustomed to the buttons on my F150’s steering wheel, and my eyes never leave the road to use any of them.
    Time will tell, I guess.


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