Many Car Companies Once Toyed With the Idea of Joystick Controlled Cars

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Many Car Companies Once Toyed With the Idea of Joystick Controlled Cars


Car companies and manufacturers are always thinking of better ways to transport humans in their everyday lives, and the invention and popularization of the joystick as a way to get around may sound bizarre now but it hadn’t been as outlandish a concept before.


According to Ars Technica, a website covering news and opinions in technology, science, politics, and society, the idea to steer cars with a joystick has been around since the 1950s. Inspired by the aerospace industry’s use of it, car companies like Ford added it in the design of the FX Atmos of 1954, and later, in 1996, Mercedes Benz carried the torch by bringing groundbreaking technology together with the joystick navigation in the F200 Imagination model. 


There’s just a couple of problems. 


Photo Credit: Shutterstock


While it may be a cool idea to add aircraft controls to a car, the design doesn’t necessarily account for the world of differences that the environment of cars and aircrafts have. For one, Ars Technica explains that aircrafts operate on a different set of rules than cars. 


For example, aircrafts “don’t have to parallel park, squeeze through busy city streets, or cruise along in the middle lane of a motorway with traffic on either side.” Additionally, “it’s much easier to channel feedback from the front tires to a steering wheel for the same reasons the wheel is more precise than a joystick.” 


In an article for Jalopnik, a news and opinion website about cars, the automotive industry, racing, transportation, airplanes, and technology, another reason why joystick-controlled cars would be difficult is the effort one has to make sure it remains functional all while they are trying their best not to crash against a tree in the process of wrapping their head around how the controls work. 


Photo Credit: Mercedes Benz


“Dividing the labor between hands and feet was one of the real innovations of human-machine interaction for cars. A number of early cars tried to use hands for throttle, fuel mixture, spark advance, and steering, and of course it was a mess. Most joystick control systems use the joystick for everything -- throttle, braking, and steering, on the assumption that it’s the most intuitive way,” writer Jason Torchinsky for Jalopnik explains.  




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