Daniel Susco
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GM Files Patent for Rotating Instrument Panel To Show When You Turn the Wheel

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As modern steering wheels have gotten larger with the addition of airbags and other technology, a new problem has cropped up. When the steering wheel is turned, it can block a lot of the instrument panel. If a new patent application from General Motors comes to fruition, that problem will be a thing of the past.


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If you wanted to know how this miraculous device works, take a look at these drawings from the application:

GM Patent adaptive instrument panel Figure 1

GM Patent adaptive instrument panel Figure 2

Essentially, the instrument cluster would rotate the gauges based on how far you turn the wheel. This includes the smaller holes in the bottoms of the steering wheel.

GM Patent adaptive instrument panel Figure 3

GM said in the patent that this would mostly be useful for two kinds of driving: performance driving and autonomous driving. In performance driving, GM said drivers often need to see the information on the dash precisely when the steering wheel would cover it. For autonomous driving, GM said that operators need to see vehicle operation status all the time (like if a sneaky taco truck confuses the system, I suppose).

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Based on the drawings, this technology could theoretically find its way to the C7 Corvette. In that case, it seems likely that the system is a little more performance-based. That is, unless GM is working on a self-driving Corvette. I can’t decide whether that idea is really cool or really frightening.


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2019 Chevrolet Suburban head up display

Photo: ©General Motors

However, it seems cloudy whether this would actually make it into production. Head-up displays perform essentially the same task. More importantly, they already appear in many vehicles and are closer to the driver’s sight line.

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Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.