Answer: A touchscreen.
ZF, a German automotive technology firm, has taken on the task of combining the age-old steering wheel with modern tech innovations that can keep up with the cars of the future.
The steering wheel has capacitive sensors around the rim, along with a bunch of LED lights. It’s most noticeable feature, however, is the 7-inch touchscreen in the middle of it. ZF hopes that the inclusion of this screen will make it easier for passengers/drivers in driverless vehicles to do things like input directions and destinations, select music, etc.
Since airbags in steering wheels are traditionally stored right where ZF put the touchscreen, the manufacturer had to do some creative redesigning in order to include this safety feature. The airbag needed to be able to cover the touchscreen in order to protect the driver’s face from it in the event of an accident (and vice versa). The result is an airbag stored in the steering wheel’s rear-rim, which wraps around the whole thing.
ZF will have the wheel on display next month at its booth at CES in Las Vegas.