How will driving in the future differ from today? According to Jaguar Land Rover, not only will autonomous cars become the standard, we won’t even own vehicles. The only part of a car that consumers get to possess is the AI-powered steering wheel.
Set to be announced at the new Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in London this week, the concept device is akin to an Alexa-style digital assistant. The AI lives inside the removable steering wheel, which can be attached to whatever car you happen to be sitting in.
The wheel is called Sayer – named after Malcolm Sayer, an influential designer who worked at Jaguar between 1951 and 1970. The company envisions it being kept in the home, where voice commands allow Sayer to carry out “hundreds” of tasks. But its most important function is the way it integrates with an on-demand car sharing service.
Sayer users could “call upon the vehicle of their choice where and when they need it,” according to Jaguar. Additionally, the AI could check schedules for appointments and order an autonomous car to arrive at the right time. Once it turns up, users plug the smart wheel into the car to link the two.
“Simply ask Sayer from the comfort of your living room and it will work out when you get up, when a car needs to autonomously arrive at your door and even advise which parts of the journey you might enjoy driving yourself,” explained the company.
For those who enjoy driving cars, all this might sound a bit depressing, but Sayer has a solution. Whenever a section of the journey arrives that car fans might enjoy, Sayer will suggest passengers take control of the vehicle. Once the car is slowly moving through traffic or traveling down a long, straight road, the AI takes over again.
Sayer is just a concept so there’s no guarantee it’ll ever become a real product, especially as many of its functions could just as easily be carried out using a phone app. But it gives us an idea of what owning a car (or just a wheel) might look like in a few decades time.