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Toyota Experimenting With Joystick Control For Cars

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the do-a-barrel-roll dept.

Input Devices 609

alphadogg writes "Today it's the stuff of video games, but Toyota is experimenting with joystick control for a new breed of compact cars and transporters. The world's biggest car maker built the technology into a couple of concept vehicles that were on display Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show. The FT-EV II, which got its world premiere at the event, is a compact electric vehicle designed for short trips. The car retains seats for four passengers despite being much more compact than most other cars, and packs drive-by-wire technology so it can be controlled with a joystick. The car's steering, braking and acceleration can be controlled by hand so foot pedals aren't needed, freeing up space to provide more legroom for the driver."

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609 comments

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824197)

...now where's my flying car?!

Johnny Cab (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824215)

Have a hellava day!

Force Feedback? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824225)

The steering usually gives good feedback of the road. Will there be some feedback in the joystick too? It's essential to the driving experience!

Re:Force Feedback? (5, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824439)

The feedback is critical. The problem is, a force feedback on the joystick would probably make a bigger difference than on a wheel, since smaller movements would make larger turns. In that vein, it seems a wheel would give more fine-grained control. You may not be able to change the turn angle as fast, but you would probably be able to be more precise, which in most cases, I think is more important.

Re:Force Feedback? (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824497)

but you would probably be able to be more precise, which in most cases, I think is more important.

Especially in Europe. I can see joystick control working fine on American streets and highways, but in countries where they have two-lane roads barely the width of two smart cars, I'm not so sure.

Re:Force Feedback? (4, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824651)

In racing games it's usually considered far preferable to use a wheel over a joystick because honestly you really don't need to go from straight to 40 degrees that quickly. Ever. The car has traction limits.

Control > Twitch.

Re:Force Feedback? (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824589)

Remember that this is Toyota though, where any pretense to steering feedback is drowned out in a shitshow of power assisted bleh.

Re:Force Feedback? (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824503)

Even worse is that the dynamics of a vehicle can make joystick control even worse. When you're just on a computer there is no angular acceleration of your body so its relatively simple.

As you go into a left turn, your hand wants to keep going the direction it was going, which is actually right from your frame of reference. Meaning you have to pull left harder.

Except that pull isn't the same for all speeds. Either they're going to have to dial down the controls for at speed or you're going to have a few people that get it up to 60 mph try to take a turn and over shoot their intended position....

Re:Force Feedback? (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824781)

I'm thinking that's exactly what they're going to do. If you're implement a drive-by-wire system you might as well go all the way and transform the joystick input based on speed, drivers preference and any other conditions you can think of. They've been doing it planes for years so I don't see why they can't do it in cars. Well actually there's one reason I can think of why this would be a bad idea, maintenance. Planes HAVE to be inspected and maintained constantly unlike cars where nobody really cares as long as your not a direct and imminent threat to other people on the road. This is fine since all the critical functions in cars are analog, mechanical links to the driver that are more likely to degrade over time then completely fail without and obvious warning signs.

Re:Force Feedback? (2, Insightful)

Bertie (87778) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824649)

Modern cars, sadly, have little of the feedback of old. I'm convinced this makes them less safe, because you can't feel what the road's doing under you like you used to. This, coupled with ever-fatter tyres which grip and grip and grip and then suddenly don't grip, adds up to bad news. But people mostly manage. Feedback's great, but it doesn't seem to be necessary for most driving conditions.

Re:Force Feedback? (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824791)

Really good points. Also the new brakes on cars mask the difficulty in stopping form high speeds vs from low speeds (the pedal has the same resistance and other things) so one forget how much energy/momentum in involved (vs slightly older cars)... I wonder if this misleads young drivers...

They should just put USB ports into the dash (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824227)

Then I can use a rumblepad or even a force-feedback racing wheel.

Re:They should just put USB ports into the dash (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824643)

Overkill. All you really need to do anything in this world is a mouse with one single button.

Power Steering failure? (4, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824229)

What happens when there's a power steering failure? I know it's not a common problem, but it is a problem which randomly comes up. At least with a steering wheel the driver can generally muscle the wheels to turn- I can't imagine a joystick acting as an actual lever to turn the wheels, but as more of an electronic device to turn on some motors which would handle this.

Re:Power Steering failure? (4, Interesting)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824259)

Very good point. I've run out of gas twice, which kills power steering -- both times I'd have been stranded in the middle lane of a busy road had I not been able to coast the car long enough to pull over somewhere safe.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824301)

dumbass

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824467)

This is an electric vehicle. I'd imagine it'd be like having the battery in your RC car die: Steering will be the last thing to go.
There should also be enough time for you to pull over when you start to lose power.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824565)

Failures of the power source of power steering are relatively easy to fix (use the wheels to either generate electricity or keep turning the pump). Failure of the steering system itself on the other hand is much harder to deal with. Complete failure of the steering system (not just power steering) can happen on a traditional vehicle but I have never actually witnessed it.

Re:Power Steering failure? (5, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824661)

Very good point. I've run out of gas twice

Once is unlucky. Twice is incompetent.

Re:Power Steering failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824699)

Well it's a good thing we have so few incompetent drivers or else he'd have a point.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1, Informative)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824737)

Running out of gas does not kill power steering. As long as your transmission is still engaged and you're still moving forward, the engine is still turning over and the accessory belts are still moving (i.e. power steering pump is still active). Those systems stop working when your RPMs drop below idle RPM.

Re:Power Steering failure? (2, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824375)

When I was pretty new to driving, I was rolling down a residential street in my dad's '78 Cougar. The engine died and the power steering went with it. I wasn't going too fast, but I was rolling straight toward a parked car. It took all I had to slowly pull the car into a turn. It was a very strange sensation, slowly heading towards a fender bender as I worked at the wheel. I did manage it, and it wouldn't have been too bad for me physically, but the other car was much newer and smaller and I would have probably banged it up pretty good.
 
I lost power steering in my '83 Celica when a belt broke. I was on the freeway and didn't even notice until I exited onto surface streets and could feel that it was much more difficult to turn. In either case with a fly-by-wire type system I'd have been in trouble. Having a mechanical backup for a loss of power is essential.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824669)

I had the power steering belt break in my '88 Celica ... except I noticed pretty damned quick since that same belt also ran the water pump.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824799)

When I was pretty new to driving, I was rolling down a residential street in my dad's '78 Cougar. The engine died and the power steering went with it. I wasn't going too fast, but I was rolling straight toward a parked car. It took all I had to slowly pull the car into a turn.

...or you could have pulled the emergency brake ...

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824379)

Given that it's an electric car (so the common power-steering system would need adjustments anyway) and they said it would be all drive-by-wire, I'd assume you'd be just as stuck with a steering wheel, as it wouldn't be directly connected to the wheels anyway.

Given this is a just a demo, I'm sure they haven't worked all the bugs out, but this sounds like a solvable problem.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824433)

It's fail hard by design. The solution is to change the design, and it's cheaper to do that earlier rather than later.

Re:Power Steering failure? (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824397)

A joystick can be linked in the same way that a steering wheel can. Look at aircraft: many older ones have joysticks. Most newer craft have yokes (essentially a wheel), but both are linked to the control surfaces physically in much the same way that a steering wheel is linked to a car's wheels.

Re:Power Steering failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824485)

That is not always the case, modern fly-by-wire designs have no such linkage

Re:Power Steering failure? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824505)

Airbus aircraft are completely fly-by-wire, I don't believe there is any mechanical connection to the control surfaces at all.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824607)

If I remember right, the Wright Brothers big contribution was that they came up with the idea of a joystick in a plane so as to control a 3-axis flight. A car really only moves in right-left-front-back. A joystick can easily be done on a car, since disabled people have been using these for a while now, but doesn't seem as intuitive as the centuries old wheel.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824695)

If the joystick were centuries old and the steering wheel were some newfangled contraption being tested by Toyota, you'd probably feel the exact opposite way about what seems intuitive.

Re:Power Steering failure? (2, Informative)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824641)

Actually, Airbus' have joysticks, and they are all electrical, no connections to the actual surfaces, and no feedback either. Boeings all have yokes, the newer ones being completely separated from the actual surfaces (737 is the only one that has a quasi-connection, and they have feedback due to some motors in the base. The next gen is going to be joysticks that have feedback with motors.

Re:Power Steering failure? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824639)

Back in the Old days. Like the late 60s cars had full power steering. They were replaced with todays partial power steering as people didn't get the feedback from the road.

Great (3, Funny)

PeeShootr (949875) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824233)

Great...because people aren't crappy enough drivers with an interface that they understand and have been using for decades.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824395)

Great...because people aren't crappy enough drivers with an interface that they understand and have been using for decades.

Here's a good place to start the debate.

Some might argue that "steering wheels are intuitive". I agree. Turn it left, the vehicle goes left. Turn it right, the vehicle goes right.
Just because steering wheels are intuitive, does not mean that something better can't come along.
There can be incremental improvements on input devices. Look at the personal computer. We went from toggle switches to punch cards, punch cards to keyboards, keyboards to mice, mice to pen interfaces, touch interfaces, and multi-touch interfaces.

Now, the better argument would be "joysticks are not naturally mapped to the movement of a car". This is true. Joysticks are naturally mapped when when a vehicle moves in terms of tilting, such as helicopters, planes, motorcycles, and perhaps boats. It would be an ergonomics issue, however, not a "we've been doing this for a decade and we don't feel like changing" issue.

Re:Great (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824703)

I disagree that steering wheels are intuitive. Both ships and cars used tillers at first, not steering wheels.

I also disagree about mapping a joystick to the movements of a car. There are only four movements in question. Left and right would take about 5 seconds of explanation to someone who knew nothing of them. Forward and backward to control speed isn't much more. The learning will come in how much to move them, and a few seconds in a parking lot will suffice to get the gist of it. After that it's just practice. I expect steering would take longer to fine tune with a joystick simply because the hand movements are so much less for similar changes, but then the speed control will be much easier than two foot pedals.

My wonder is if they have any plans for manual transmissions. You could have upshift/downshift buttons on the stick, like the military HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick), but for a true manual tranny, you'd have to have a second joystick, presumably for the other hand. What would be neat would be if you could swap them so both lefties and righties could drive the same car.

This will have to be drive by wire, at least for the steering, or at least speed sensitive, otherwise some idiot will knock the joystick sideways at speed and roll. You can't do that in a car by accident, altho maybe on the AutoBahn going really fast ...

Re:Great (5, Funny)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824553)

This is exactly what I need. You don't know how many times I've been driving and wished that I could use just my hands instead of me feet. This would free up my feet so I could use them to dial my cell phone, mess with the radio, flip people the middle toe...

Re:Great (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824747)

I'm left handed. I can guarantee this will be right-handed only. You probably want to watch out for my "wrong hand" driving skills while you're at it.

No kidding. (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824815)

So, Toyota, you're planning on building a car that no one knows how to drive? Let us know how that works out for you.

zomg (0)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824239)

This better be implemented, just for the cool factor. Unfortunately, I could see the added joystick capability could end up making it too easy to perform particularly risky maneuvers (IE, aggressive drivers now have the skill of a race car video game), but it could also make driving easier. The only problem I see is parallel parking, which would be worlds different with joystick control. Although from how the article put it, it just sounds like these joysticks are the left and right side of a steering wheel: they react the same regardless of which one you touch.

Re:zomg (4, Informative)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824687)

Apparently you haven't played many racing games...

Wheels make the games easier, not harder. Playing GT4 on high challenge levels in fast cars with a joystick is really pretty damn hard.

Sounds logical... (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824247)

I always wondered when we'd finally switch from the same ol' method of controlling a car we've been using... well for the most part from the beginning of cars.

I'm sure someone with the time to do it and some minor mechanical and electrical skills could make a modification to a car to function this way. Would be a fun project I think.

Old news - Saab tried this in the 80s (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824255)

They had some experimental vehicle that used a joystick. Upshot was that the joystick is NOT a good way to control a car due to its small range of movement. Doing subtle manouvering was a right PITA. Sure , technology may improve things but frankly a steering wheel gives perfect feedback for what it does and if something ain't broken...

Re:Old news - Saab tried this in the 80s (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824723)

I remember this as well. I believe the joystick would turn the wheels less at high speed than at low speed because the joystick had such a reduced range of motion compared to a steering wheel.

The problems they encountered don't seem like ones there will likely be a solution to without taking a completely different approach. The steering mechanism having different levels of influence over the wheels depending on speed just seems like a recipe for disaster.

I can understand why they would try though. I believe back when Saab tried it, the logic behind the test was to eliminate the steering wheel because its the most dangerous thing to a driver in a collision. So it was less about finding a better way to steer and more about building a less dangerous cockpit to steer in. It almost sounds like Toyota is looking at it from a "how do we make the car even smaller" perspective.

Won't catch on until you can keybind (4, Funny)

Gorm the DBA (581373) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824273)

It'll all be for noobs until you can keybind your macros...which requires a much more complex interface than a simple joystick...I mean, come on, what is this, pac-man?

gimme a control that lets me:

[StartMacro Name = 'RoadRage']
/swerveleft
/blinkheadlights
/accelerate 90
/flipoffotherdriver
[EndMacro]

and then we'll be talking...till then...back to the drawing board.

next step (1)

NudeAvenger (1391803) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824279)

Trackball cars! Though it won't be fully finished until we have a touchscreen with the patented apple zoom gesture to accelerate

Yeah! 80's technology... (0)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824293)

finally making it into cars. I hope they look at the evolution of joysticks and realize a thumb-stick is better. The feedback from your body moving is all you need. That is what is missing from driving games.

Re:Yeah! 80's technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824547)

... a thumb-stick is better. The feedback from your body moving is all you need

Are you actually a driver? Or just a video game player? This is the most ludicrous statement I've seen in a while. I hope you were joking.

reversed controls? (5, Funny)

meow27 (1526173) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824295)

will there be interchangeable control options?
will the controls have reverse controls or plain?

will there be some nifty fire buttons?

spy hunter looks so much more realistic now.

now im waiting for a car that is controlled by a keyboard. that would be awsome

Special license needed? (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824307)

Very non-standard controls... the reason I can jump in basically any car and drive it is because the operations are mostly standardised. Left pedal clutch, middle break, right accelerator, steering wheel is obvious, indicators is the stick on the right. Lights etc trial-and-error mostly. Trucks, buses - well anything that hits the road and has more than two wheels pretty much works like that.

This is so different, will we need special licenses/training for it? How about force-feedback, for example? I know it's experimental but still makes you wonder how about using it on the road.

And safety. For such a super-compact car. Crumple zones don't compact well - maybe I should state that different. They need space to crumple in. Something like that. And that is space OUTSIDE the passenger compartment of course.

Re:Special license needed? (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824501)

This is so different, will we need special licenses/training for it?

Why? You don't need a special kind of license to drive stick vs. automatic. A license doesn't test for your ability to use the controls, it tests for your ability to do the right thing with the car features at the right times.

Early cars didn't have steering wheels, and if the vehicle was street-legal you wouldn't need a special license today to drive one [autospeed.com]

Re:Special license needed? (3, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824713)

In the UK you can pass your test in an automatic car, but then you aren't allowed to drive a stick (what we call 'manual gearbox'). You need to take your test in a manual gearbox car to be allowed to drive manual+auto.

One of the great things about old land rovers like mine is of course the non-standard controls that make it harder for people to steal. First it's diesel, so you have to know to warm the engine on the 'glow' setting for a bit. If they get past that and the engine starts, then they have to know I've left the transfer box lever in neutral so the wheels won't go round even with the gear lever in. Oh and just for fun I can leave it in 4wd so if they do nick it the transmission will lock up on the road and leave them with a broken car. And half the time the battery is disconnected anyway because it goes flat if I don't drive for two weeks. Drive-by-wire? No thanks! And all those wusses complaining about failing power steering! Sheesh, grow some muscles!

Re:Special license needed? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824743)

A license tests your ability to control your speed and drive in a straight line. It doesn't test reaction time, situational awareness, common sense, general car control skills, resistance to road rage, or any of the other features people might find lacking in their peers (but never themselves strangely).

Re:Special license needed? (4, Informative)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824763)

Not having pedals or a steering column to deal with in a crash gives the engineers lots of scope to make cars safer. I'll be following this with interest.

The control layout we have in cars today wasn't finalized until after WW2. Prior to that, many cars had the accelerator in the middle, with the clutch and brake on either side. Some cars had unique setups - ever driven a Model T?

Even today, there are two "standards" for minor controls on right hand drive cars. British RHD cars have the turning signals on the left of the steering column. Japanese and Australian RHD cars have the turning signals on the right. I drive a Mitsubishi L300 Delica, so I'm used to reaching with my right hand for the turning signals.

While it had a steering wheel, the GM Hy-Wire concept was drive by wire as well. Some Citroen models were effectively drive by wire (e.g. the SM), with no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and road wheels unless the engine or power steering failed.

...laura

I seem to remember (5, Informative)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824309)

In the late 80s, early 90s Saab experimented with a joystick control, a "drive by wire if you will." Stephanie Stahl from 60 minutes did a story on the drive by wire Saab. Ultimately, it proved not to be the game changer everyone thought. The joystick was placed where the gear shifter normally was. One of the problems was the sensitivity and lack of road feedback. It was actually hard to drive and keep steady.

Re:I seem to remember (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824575)

GM tried it even earlier. In the '60s there was the Firebird III [wikipedia.org] although that was not a production car.

Re:I seem to remember (1)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824609)

If people didn't try things because others had failed at the same thing before, the Wright brothers never would've left the ground. Kudos to Toyota.

Re:I seem to remember (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824767)

The Wright brothers kept trying because they were dealing with a new field and improvements to technology were being made.

Driving with a stick is not a new field, a little history and you'd notice that cars started out this way. Steering wheels were the progression AWAY from driving with a stick. To top it off, nothing has changed to improve the technology. Adding computers and fly by wire actually makes it worse, unless you add even more technology to make it essentially the same as before you added the computer.

This is roughly the same as arguing that its a good idea to put the engine the Wright brothers used in the Flyer into your modern day Cessna and trying to fly it.

You are correct, if no one tried there would never be any improvements ... problem is, they already tried, and the improvement was NOT TO USE A STICK.

History is hard, lets go shopping!

Finally (2, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824317)

A car with yaw control...

Re:Finally (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824793)

All cars have yaw control, thats what the steering wheel does.

Perhaps you're thinking of Roll or Attitude control.

Personally I think most drivers need a little attitude control, and they really need to roll faster in most cases as well.

So many problems... (5, Insightful)

ZenDragon (1205104) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824351)

There are so many problems with this idea I cant even imgaine...
1) As somebody else mentioned, power steering failure is a big one
2) A car does not move conducive to the way a joystick moves, the throttle/break and steering need to be seperate.
or your just asking for trouble in a hard turn or emergency situation.
3) I guarantee you, steering fatigue will set in if a drivers only means for controlling the vehicle are with one hand.
4) I could go on but I think most of these issues are quite obvious.

Re:So many problems... (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824457)

Definitely agree on the fatigue. I've driven a fair amount of level and/or joystick controlled equipment (lawn mowers, construction equipment, robots) and your arms get tired a lot faster than driving with a wheel, where it mostly stays straight without any input from you.

Re:So many problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824615)

Are these necessarily inherent to the joystick or are they engineering artifacts that good design can get around? I would imagine that there would be some attempt to address these issues in the design and not that an Atari joystick would be dropped in.

Need for Speed: Reality Edition (3, Funny)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824377)

I will finally be able to drift around corners since I can't do it in real life, but I am a pretty awesome drifter in games.

Hellfire Missiles! (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824381)

Now that we've got the joysticks out of the way, we can finally move on to more important matters.

mercedes did something like that a long time ago ^ (1)

Ruede (824831) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824421)

mercedes did something like that a long time ago ^^

Publicity Stunt (1)

TheRealPacmanJones (1600187) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824431)

Sounds more likely to be something that Toyota is going to try becuase they can do it, not to sell it or even really bring it to market. They put this out and people talk about Toyota for a while and then like alot of stuff that comes out at car shows, never sees the inside of a showroom. Just my two cents though.

Left vs right handed? (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824435)

The steering wheel is in the middle, will the joystick likewisde be in the middle, or off to one side?

Re:Left vs right handed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824595)

or in the middle of the seat? ;-)

Re:Left vs right handed? (1)

elrs3 (1438793) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824619)

If the joystick replaces the gearshift, Lefthanders can sit on the Right Side of the car. It'll be a little tricky paying tolls though....

Feel free to ignore (2, Informative)

moogied (1175879) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824465)

This won't ever see the light of day. For one, its not currently legal in America. Two, it would only result in a much higher rate of impact. (Slam on your brakes next time you drive, see which way your hand moves. Is it forward?! Oh no! you just hit the car going 30 instead of 22). THREE, if its NOT BROKE. Do NOT fix it. Four, there is 0 gain from this. At all. Also, unless we start seeing it on race cars no one will ever take it seriously.

Re:Feel free to ignore (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824623)

I agree that this is just a publicity stunt or an attempt by Toyota to prove that they "think outside of the box". However, the idea of putting the throttle and breaking controls where they will be controlled by the hands is a good idea (although it may prove impractical). There have been numerous studies that indicate that reaction times are significantly better with the hands than with the feet.

Re:Feel free to ignore (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824779)

Won't happen. Wheels give you more control than joysticks. There's a reason they sell all those wheel toys for racing games (hint: it's because it's easier to play with those, not because it looks cool).

Where's the beef? (1)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824475)

No pictures? How can they not show us any pictures of this? And why a joystick? Why not something more like a brainwave scanner? That way, when you're talking on the cellphone, and you get distracted by picturing what the person on the other end is saying, you crash into a wall! That would be so cool!

Re:Where's the beef? (2, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824673)

No pictures? How can they not show us any pictures of this?

Ask and you shall receive: picture index [mainichi.jp].

If you look at the third row from the top, the middle picture, that is the steering system they are talking about. I know it doesn't look like a joystick but the caption says it is of the Toyota FT-EV II, the same one mentioned in the article.

I can just see it (3, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824509)

when the kid, puppy, cat, or even coffee do something unexpected.

A yoke is just plain more stable than a stick. The latter is great for quick input of large control motions, but has more drawbacks than advantages where the objective is smooth and precise results with minimal interference.

For all of the "fighter jock" fantasies, drivers are a lot more like jumbo jet jockeys. That includes race drivers -- or don't you think that someone would have put this to use on the F1 circuit already if it was actually better?

Re:I can just see it (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824691)

"A yoke is just plain more stable than a stick. "

Which is why yokes are used for armored fighting vehicles instead of joysticks. :)

Re:I can just see it (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824707)

The reality is that a joystick will allow a twitch of your arm to go from full right turn at full throttle to full left turn at full brake.

Thats not something that people can do currently with a wheel and peddles, AND THATS A GOOD THING. Don't believe me? Get in your car, get up to 70mph or so on an isolated road (don't want to hurt anyone other than yourself) and turn your steering wheel back and forth from full left to full right.

$20 says you can't even get it all the way to one extreme before losing control at 45/mph, let alone highway speeds.

So now they are going to have to do it more in a fly by wire kind of setup so that it can turn down the sensitivity at higher speeds for safety ... which then takes control away from the driver that may be useful.

Finally, there are other vehicles that occasionally use something other than a steering wheel for steering, NONE of them are intended to be driven by the guy off the street, they aren't stable enough to allow for that.

Re:I can just see it (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824801)

The reality is that a joystick will allow a twitch of your arm to go from full right turn at full throttle to full left turn at full brake.

Thats not something that people can do currently with a wheel and peddles

Throttle to brake, yes, but since the joystick is controlling wheels that have to swivel, you can't go from full right turn to full left turn in a twitch, either.

Consider why we use mice with a 1:1 (or higher, but still linear) relationship to cursor position. This is equivalent to a steering wheel controlling wheels. Joysticks suck for operating a GUI, because they correspond to acceleration rather than position. So while you can go from moving a cursor to the right at full speed to moving one to the left at full speed instantly, it doesn't mean that your cursor is suddenly at the left side of the screen. Similarly, moving a steering joystick from hard right to hard left doesn't suddenly put you in a left turn... and within a second or two, the stick no longer represents the direction of the tires.

I dont see how this will ever catch on (1)

sargon666777 (555498) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824541)

I don't see how this can ever catch on. If I have to control the car with my hands, how exactly am I supposed to text while driving and not paying attention to the road?

Useful for the disabled (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824571)

This may be particularly useful for disabled people with a limited range of motion. There are already cars without pedals for the wheelchair-bound.

Joystick control (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824585)

This is an exceptionally bad idea. Even with extensive training, in an emergency, you do not think about how to react, and decades of "muscle memory" kicks in. There will be many, many instances of someone in a crisis situation trying in vain to stop their vehicle by attempting to stomp on a non-existant brake pedal.

If you change the QWERTY keyboard, for example, all you have are some frustrated touch-typists. Change this interface and you're going to have scores of dead bodies followed by inevitable lawsuits. A steering wheel and pedals may not be the best interface, but it's too late to change unless you have both systems in place for decades until a new generation of drivers are trained to use only the joystick mechanism.

Shame it can't happen (yet) (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824613)

Mercedes have had working prototypes of steering-wheel-less cars for a heck of a long time now, but they can't bring them to market because European safety laws require a physical connection between steering wheel and steered wheels. For obvious reasons - if your fancy fly-by-wire joystick suddenly stops working, you are in deep doo-doo.

equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824709)

They have had joystick controls in heavy equipment for a while now, and also boats (http://www.volvo.com/volvopenta/uk/en-gb/marine_leisure_engines/engines/c_volvo_penta_ips/joystick/joystick.htm). So... why not try it in cars too?

Issue with steer by wire (1)

slinks (1627039) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824749)

this is just a steer by wire system with a joy stick as the input dev.

I was on a design project in college. we built a steer by wire system for GM. although they were just using it as a hiring pool.

The advantages:
-no steering column. ie safer,lighter, no more hydraulics
-you can mess with the controls to change the feel of the steering, responsive, auto steer, ect.
-you can standardize steering units, just drop it in any car

The Disadvantages:
-no hard fail safe. although simple redundancy and smart design can make the fail probability very small.
-poor software/controls error handling can now kill(i smell a new micheal bay movie!)

in hindsight the project wasnt as interesting as the possibilities.

Full turn at the flick of your wrist...bad idea (1)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 3 years ago | (#29824783)

At least with a steering wheel you have to make 2 or 3 full revolutions to get the wheels at a full turn angle, with a joystick it would just be a flick of your wrist. Can you say flip over?

To the naysayers, heres my thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29824811)

Power Steering: Its drive by wire, an electric car... This isnt your dad oldsmobile with an adapter kit.. we don't know that its hydraulic power steering, it could be all elctronic...

Fatigue: I don't get tired after running a skid-steer or backhoe all day, they are controlled by joysticks.. and are more complex than car controlls

Feedback: Boohoo, its drive by wire, let the computer handle its own feedback... this could eliminate bumpsteer, which is more dangerous if the driver tries to compensate for it.

Learning Curve: Its a prototype, and isnt on the road yet, the aim of the project is to make the car easier to drive, not harder.. let the computer decide how fast to take the corners, how fast to accelerate, and when to coast/brake... thats the idea behind innovation, TO INNOVATE, not to stay the same, but add a blutooth iPod connector with a clock built in

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