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Bentley applies for a patent for a retractable steering wheel to provide a good experience for autonomous driving

It is reported that Bentley Motors has applied to the UK Patent Office for a patent that redesigns the layout of the vehicle’s cockpit, showing a hinged mechanism that allows the steering wheel to oscillate between an operating position and a stowed position, controlled by the driver. The side doors fold out and stow laterally, allowing for a completely different cab layout.

It is reported that the design is suitable for self-driving vehicles and may become a common and legal configuration in future L5 driverless vehicles. Bentley is expected to produce its first electric car in 2025, possibly a self-driving electric car, a crossover that can be driven at high speeds. Bentley says this design allows the steering wheel to be needed only at certain times, freeing up valuable interior space.

According to the patent, the steering wheel system deploys from a pod-shaped pocket on the driver’s side door, and features a retractable steering wheel grip with trigger functions equivalent to the gas and brakes.


According to Bentley, this design allows greater freedom in configuring the vehicle’s interior cabin to maximize the available interior space, including the ability to rotate the seats (including the driver’s seat) 360 degrees Passengers can interact while the vehicle is in self-driving mode.

While Bentley’s steering wheel is designed for “autopilot” mode, the necessary manual controls are also required when autopilot isn’t feasible or the driver doesn’t want it.

So how would the steering wheel work if it wasn’t attached to a conventional bogie with arms and linkages like a conventional steering wheel? In a nutshell, according to the patent, for manual steering of the steering wheel, the drive-by-wire system would include multiple input sensors capable of sending signals to an Electronic control unit (ECU).

Interestingly, Bentley’s patent does not deny that both left- and right-hand drive models are to be produced.

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