Tesla’s new steering wheel comes with Autopilot sensor-based drive modes, force touch buttons, and more

Tesla’s new steering wheel in the Model S and Model X comes with more than meets the eye.

Electrek managed to learn more details about Tesla’s new innovative product.

New Tesla Model S and Model X

Today, Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated new Model S and Model X 2021 refresh.

The new electric vehicles have updated powertrains and battery packs with the latest technology from Tesla – catching up to Model 3 and Model Y in some cases and surpassing them in others.

But the most anticipated change is the interior design, which received a complete refresh.

First impressions have been mixed as some of the features have proved polarizing – none more than the new steering wheel.

Tesla new steering wheel

Tesla is introducing a brand-new steering wheel in the new Model S and Model X.

In the new configurator, Tesla describes the new steering wheel, which has no stalk:

The ultimate focus on driving: no stalks, no shifting. With a stalkless steering yoke, you can enjoy both the best car to drive, and the best car to be driven in.

Previously, Tesla used stalks on its steering wheels like most other vehicles for turn signals, headlights, and windshield wiper controls, and unlike other automakers, Tesla even used steering wheel stalks for other controls like Autopilot and the drive modes (PRND).

Tesla’s new steering wheel has none of that as the steering column is not equipped with any stalk.

It’s instead packaged into a streamlined butterfly steering wheel design:

In order to replace the stalks, Tesla is betting on a mix of AI and force touch buttons on the steering wheels to replace these functions.

The steering wheel is equipped with the same scrolls already found on the Model 3 and Model Y wheel, but it now features new force touch buttons for the turn signals, high beams, honk, Autopilot, windshield control, and voice commands:

But ultimately, Tesla’s hope is that all these functions will be performed automatically by the vehicle.

That strategy is especially shown by Tesla’s solution to replace the drive mode (PRND) stalk.

Electrek obtained internal Tesla documents that shows the automaker plans to use Autopilot and AI to know which drive mode to activate.

Tesla writes in the document:

The vehicle uses its Autopilot sensors to intelligently and automatically determine intended drive modes and select them. For example, if the front of Model S/X is facing a garage wall, it will detect this and automatically shift to Reverse once the driver presses the brake pedal. This eliminates one more step for the drivers of the world’s most intelligent production cars.

That’s quite a change in the way to operate a car, but Tesla is making sure that people are not too confused about it by adding force touch controls for “Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive” drive modes at the base of the phone charger on the center console.

We first reported on some of that technology based on a patent that Tesla filed last year.

What do you think of Tesla’s new steering wheel and driving controls? Let us know in the comment section below.

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