When Jaguar unveiled the Sayer two days ago, I couldn't help but laugh at the irony - centuries after inventing the wheel and subsequently locomotion, here we are at the pinnacle of advanced technology, talking about a wheel of sorts that may well be the only piece of a car that we own. To make matters even more amusing, this wheel is square.
It does not take too long to fathom that the Sayer steering wheel, conceptualised by Jaguar-Land Rover, is only a thoughtful insight to the future of locomotion, and is not something that will become reality some time soon. In fact, it may never become real, simply because it is a bit too sci-fi for the immediate future. The wheel is named after Jaguar's famous designer, Malcolm Sayer, who worked with the company between 1951 and 1970. To justify this bit of respect and weight that has been paid to this 'wheel', Jaguar-Land Rover has put in a lot of thought to it.
What is it?
The Jaguar Sayer is a rectangular object, and just like every second thing being unveiled in the field of advanced automobiles, is based around artificial intelligence. With worsening traffic and road conditions, automakers and technology giants are foreseeing a future where we take to ride sharing on a regular, widespread basis and cease to own cars (at least until the flying cars become commonplace). With the lack of owning a car, our lives may also steadily become more streamlined, and almost every belonging of ours is expected to become smart, remaining connected to Cloud-based internet networks for remote access.
"This wheel is square"
The Sayer aims to be the ideal companion to your smartphone, at least when it comes to travel. From what Jaguar has revealed so far, the Sayer smart steering wheel's artificial intelligence engine will not just be limited to driving requirements. Instead, it will be a complete AI assistant that can aid you in multiple tasks across various spheres of life. The virtual personal assistant will be enabled by voice, and live out of the steering wheel to do tasks like scheduling a ride, or prompting reminders from the calendar. This AI assistant-enabled steering wheel, as Jaguar foresees, will be the only part of the car that you would own. Hence, once you step on board the shared ride, you can simply plug the wheel in to take control of the car.
The future of the concept
As time progresses, one can foresee a possible evolution of this kind of technology. Future versions of this concept may even come with integrated navigation units with live satellite sync, which would rid the car of using its telematics. Essentially, you will be responsible for providing one half of the autonomous technology, going forward, and although Jaguar does not state this, it only seems natural that if this concept was to be realised, such are the features that would make it complete.
However, it is unlikely that this particular concept will see the light in its present form. The Jaguar Sayer steering wheel is a show of how our future technology would work, and its limitations are set by its own bearing. For one, the reason for having a steering wheel is to have manual control, and in autonomous ride sharing models, the steering wheel seems to play increasingly limited roles. Additionally, the factor of symmetry plays a big role in how we go about in our lives, and continuity is one element that we always seem to overlook. A square steering wheel that can talk, for the mainstream city dwellers, would typically be limited to only the most tech savvy of the lot, and that itself is not ideal for mass transit systems like autonomous ride sharing services of our future. But...
...lies in the fact that it can successfully commit to AI-powered functions that will be expected of advanced systems like this one. Most of our future livelihood will be executed via connected gadgets equipped with smart voice interfaces. In such a market, a personalised steering wheel that can be fitted into any rental vehicle for information exchange and occasional manual control seems to be, right now, the ideal way forward. The Jaguar Sayer steering wheel may not be the perfect accessory that will support our autonomous driving lifestyle, but it is indeed a prelude to what we can expect going forward.
It is, to conclude, the most sensible square wheel that provides the basis for future technology to build upon.