Mercedes-Benz reinvents the steering wheel

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The redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class will come with the capacitive steering wheel, which senses the driver’s grip.

Its rim has a two-zone sensor mat detecting the driver’s grip on the steering wheel with touch control buttons placed in the spokes working with digital signals.

The touch control buttons reduce the mechanical operating surfaces, which are divided into functional areas.

Touches are recorded and evaluated via capacitive sensor technology, enabling intuitive operation via swiping gestures and pressing familiar symbols.

Marcus Fiege, head of steering wheel development at Mercedes-Benz, said, “The sensors on the front and back of the rim register whether the steering wheel is being held. No more steering movement is required to signal the assistance systems that the vehicle is under control.”

He added, “The system automatically recognizes where the finger is at any given moment. And the buttons are designed for temperatures of over 100°C.”

The size of the steering wheel is the same as the previous generation.

Hans-Peter Wunderlich, creative director, interior design, Mercedes-Benz, said, “The steering wheel rim is the secret kingmaker of a steering wheel. Its geometric design is a science in itself that cannot be found in any textbook. The wreath must fit snugly in the hand. If it is a millimeter too much, it feels unpleasantly bulging. If it’s a millimeter too little, it feels like it’s starved. And that impression then clouds the overall feel of the car.”

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