Forums

Deleting antique controls

Deleting antique controls

When will we see the end of the ICE 1910 control system? A simple joy stick could easily replace the steering wheel, gas peddle, and brake peddle. Now with autonomous driving and smart computer control seems like it would be a natural.
Got to be safer then a weight on your key locking the steering and disabling the engine and brakes.

DTsea | June 23, 2014

Because a joy stick is great in airplane where most strong acceleration is vertical, along axis of joystick, and LOUSY in a car where lateral acceleration, as well as braking and (in a model s anyway) forward acceleration, would induce control inputs.

Also how would cruise control work?

EcLectric | June 23, 2014

Ask yourself why you're still typing on a QWERTY keyboard, even on your smart phone.

Dramsey | June 23, 2014

Joystick controls have been tried many times for cars. They don't work well at all, which is why you will never see one in a production automobile.

Think of how many times you turn a steering wheel to go from full left lock to full right lock. Now think about encapsulating that entire range of movement in a 90 degree arc. Now think about turning a corner while trying to modulate the throttle and brake with the same control, wherein the tiniest twitch of your hand has a dramatic effect.

That's why cars don't have joysticks.

Solarwind | June 23, 2014

EcLectric you hit the nail on the head, it is convention, not that it don't work. Maybe we will jump directly to the helmet that picks up your thoughts and you have no controls. Maybe just talk to it like your iPhone. Tell a Blackhawk pilot it don't work, he just looks at what he wants to shoot.

DTsea | June 23, 2014

The blackhawk pilot does not fly with a joystick alone.

Helicopters use stick in one hand for roll and pitch.

The pilot holds the collective in the other hand lifting it to increase blade pitch and twisting it to increase throttle.

The pilot has rudder pedals for yaw.

The Blackhawk pilot also has hats and triggers on the stick to operate weapons.

It is not easy to fly a helicopter (I have) nor is it intuitive. It takes a lot of training and practice... and they don't fly in formation.

You will never see a joystick controlled ground vehicle.

Solarwind | June 23, 2014

Your joystick rant has nothing to do with what I refer, the gun points to where you are looking. Your car can do the same. Need not be a joy stick .
I have flown helicopter so am familiar with controls, My 1946 Luscombe fixed wing uses sticks, that kind of stick would not work in a car, but a console that your arm sits in you could control the car with finger pressure, twist stick, or joy stick.

DTsea | June 24, 2014

Possible I suppose. Hard to pick up your coffee though- would have to be right arm.

Luscombe. You are a lucky man. Beautiful airplane.

Solarwind | June 24, 2014

I was hoping to stir up some visionaries on this site. There is no reason electric cars need to be controlled the conventional way except for convention. We have come part way with single pedal driving, lift your foot off gas and car slows, (regen braking).

Regarding Luscombe, I have a rare 1948 Luscombe 11A Sedan that I will not live long enough to finish the restore. Plus I need to locate funds for Tesla MX due next year.

holidayday | June 24, 2014

I say use an XBOX controller.

(or Playstation)
(Or Wii)

...MIB II. . .

Haeze | June 24, 2014

A wheel gives you much more control than a stick in a car.

The wheel uses mechanical advantage to give you a LOT more travel for a fine adjustment of the steering rack. If you used a stick, which has at best a 60-degree range of movement in any direction, when you hit the slightest bump, it would cause your arm's momentum to jostle the steering drastically. This would mean a total loss of control as the fine adjustments needed to correct the course of the car would be near impossible with such a short range of movement on the stick.

You see the same thing when you compare controls for first-person shooter video games. The one game I have ever seen where computer users were able to directly compete with console gamers was Unreal 3. Sony shut down the cross-platform gaming so quick few even knew it was available, because all of the computer gamers with the mouse-and-keyboard controls had such fine control over their aim with the long-throw of a mouse, compared to the miniscule throw of a controller's analogue stick, that the console gamers were getting trounced.

You need to choose the proper controls for the application. In the case of aircraft, where the compression of the air around your wings, flaps, rotors, etc. gives you a nice cushioned buffer to avoid a quick jostle of the stick throwing your vehicle completely out of control. In a car, where your steering systems are based off of two solid objects pushing against each other, the tiniest mistake can have catastrophic results. They make up for this by increasing the travel of your arms to represent a fine adjustment of the steering, something that simply can't be done with a stick.

Solarwind | June 24, 2014

@Haeze So your saying autonomous driving is a hoax and will never happen?

Red Sage ca us | June 24, 2014

The mouse & keyboard thing with PC Games is just like the gasoline & diesel thing with ICE vehicles. Each is the best implementation of a flawed strategy that is accepted due to their being ubiquitous. That said, I have no problem with a steering wheel, a go pedal, and a stay right here pedal. Works for me!

Iowa92x | June 24, 2014

Bulldozers and other heavy equipment operate well on joysticks alone.

Software could modify the sensitivity relative to speed of the car, so when you're on the highway at 70 mph, it takes more stick movement to change steering direction.

Are there laws that require a steering wheel and pedals for control?

jordanrichard | June 24, 2014

I am surprised that the pilots here haven't mentioned that when planes are on the ground, they use a "tiller", sort of a small steering wheel, to turn the aircraft's front gear. At least the 3 different airframes I worked on in the Air Force did.

cantcurecancer | June 24, 2014

"The mouse & keyboard thing with PC Games is just like the gasoline & diesel thing with ICE vehicles. Each is the best implementation of a flawed strategy that is accepted due to their being ubiquitous"

That and there's literally no better alternative to a mouse and keyboard in terms of accuracy. I think the same is true for the steering wheel, is not a solution, but it's better than any other.

I think accelerator and deccelerator pedals are very good. You can't get much similar than that, if simplicity is any indicator of good product design. Of course Tesla's one-pedal driving is even simpler than that...so maybe that is better!

Dramsey | June 24, 2014

I was hoping to stir up some visionaries on this site. There is no reason electric cars need to be controlled the conventional way except for convention.

Sure there is: because it works really well.

Early cars used a variety of control systems: tillers, for example. The steering wheel was an innovation, and brake/accelerator pedals didn't come along until much later, as anyone who's ever driven a Model T will know.

The current system is the result of close to a century of refinement. Nobody's come up with anything better yet, although refinements like variable-ratio power steering and anti-lock brakes have been added.

You don't "stir up visionaries" by proposing ideas that have been tried, and failed, multiple times...unless you personally have some new take on the idea.

Timo | June 25, 2014

Steering wheel is very precise and allows control using both hands in multiple positions if you hand gets tired. It's very hard to make anything better than that. Legs for acceleration/deceleration is also very intuitive and allows your brain to use different part for it making things safer.

holidayday | June 25, 2014

Wow, who knew Ars Technica reads this blog? :)

Solarwind | June 25, 2014

I totally disagree that the steering wheel is the best way to control the modern electric car. It is obstructive, (dangerous) intrusive into drivers space, requires a lot of space, and constant monitoring (holding arms up). The problem is no manufacture is willing to take a chance on retraining millions of drivers.
I have been a basic flight instructor for years. As most of you know the directional control of aircraft is controlled with your feet. My biggest challenge has been to try to break students from steering with the yoke which looks like a steering wheel. The older the student the longer it takes. If the aircraft is equipped with a stick the transition time is less. (doesn't feel like a steering wheel). Old habits are hard to break.
I love driving our electric car (Volt) with single peddle only, use the brake in emergence or the last 5mph during a stop. My wife does not use regenitive braking, she likes driving conventional. I can't wait to see what the MX will be like.

DTsea | June 25, 2014

You are a CFI? I hope you are not teaching people to fly with just rudder and no

DTsea | June 25, 2014

And no aileron

Solarwind | June 25, 2014

Why would you hope that. It is easy to fly without ailerons, nearly impossible to fly without rudder.

Dramsey | June 25, 2014

The steering wheel isn't necessarily the best way; it's just way better than a joystick.

Interesting article on this...

DTsea | June 25, 2014

Large airplanes only use rudder for engine out maneuvers. Transport category pilots fly feet on floor. Banking an airplane with just rudder risks spin at low speed. Ailerons are for roll. Rudder is for yaw. Talk to your FSDO.

Solarwind | June 25, 2014

@ Dramsey good article pretty much what I expected, there may even be better ways now as some of those were 1996.

@ DTsea some aircraft have coupled controls such as the Aircoupe. The FAA sent me a pilot for more training because he answered a simple question wrong. What turns the airplane? Do you know?

centralvalley | June 25, 2014

Solarwind, you are intractable in your thinking!

However, your comparisons of controlling a fixed-wing aircraft to an automobile are not valid. They are not used in similar situations. Automobiles are driven in heavy traffic, with cars going parallel, cars crossing, cars merging, cars oncoming at speeds up to 80 MPH or so. Cars must stay on the paved roadways. Planes generally have unfettered access to the skies, as long as they stay at their appropriate altitude. Yes, planes and jets travel much faster, but I have yet to see an airplane highway with hundreds of planes flying along side me, flying towards me, and crossing me.

Just about anyone with a pulse can get a driver license and buy a car. Licensing pilots is a much more serious and technical undertaking, and the costs with flying are significantly more prohibitive than driving a car. Generally, those who fly are probably more intelligent and more responsible than many automobile drivers.

Finally, with a steering wheel, if the driver is adjusting the cooling system, or the radio, or any other mildly distracting activity and a perceived emergency arises, he/she still has one hand on the steering wheel. If the joystick were in the center console, precious time could be lost by the time he reacts and moves his hand to the stick and processes the information to make the appropriate maneuver.

While I admire your creativity, there are just too many variables in controlling an automobile that could not be managed by a high percentage of drivers out there!

DTsea | June 26, 2014

And yes I do know what turns an airplane. It is rotation of the lift vector by banking.

DTsea | June 26, 2014

Note I have instrument pilot and glider ratings and bachelor's and master's in aerospace engineering. So I have a reasonable familiarity with airplanes.

I believe the Ercoupe (not aircoupe) was the last airplane with mechanically coupled aileron and rudder, intended to simplify coordinated turns.

Solarwind | June 26, 2014

@ DTsea That is very good! The answer is Lift or more accurate, Vectored Lift. Don't know if I have seen the rotation word used but obviously there is rotation. That simple question is one every pilot should know but often forgets. Thanks for correcting me on Ercoupe, I am old and forgetful but I never could spell.

holidayday | June 27, 2014

Well, you could use only yaw to turn the aircraft, but then you get inertia pulling you (person inside the plane) to the side of the plane. But it's better to roll and use lift, so that the inertia pulls you into the seat instead of into the side of the aircraft.

DTsea | June 27, 2014

I just added ercoupe in case anyone wanted to look it up. Kind of a neat airplane but didn't sell very well.

Rotation of lift vector is why you have to pull back on stick when you roll. At 45 degree bank, for example, at 1g there is cos (45) *lift horizontal, roughly .7 of lift, and .7 vertical. To avoid descending you need vertical component equal to weight so you need to pull 1/cos(45) g or about 1.4g. That means you will also get a 1g lateral acceleration to turn the airplane. Similarly at 60 degrees you have to pull 2 gs.

Those are steep banks... In an airliner those would be emergency maneuvers. In a light plane they are fun. Limit load is 2.5g which is about a 66 degree level flight bank.

DTsea | June 27, 2014

I just added ercoupe in case anyone wanted to look it up. Kind of a neat airplane but didn't sell very well.

Rotation of lift vector is why you have to pull back on stick when you roll. At 45 degree bank, for example, at 1g there is cos (45) *lift horizontal, roughly .7 of lift, and .7 vertical. To avoid descending you need vertical component equal to weight so you need to pull 1/cos(45) g or about 1.4g. That means you will also get a 1g lateral acceleration to turn the airplane. Similarly at 60 degrees you have to pull 2 gs.

Those are steep banks... In an airliner those would be emergency maneuvers. In a light plane they are fun. Limit load is 2.5g which is about a 66 degree level flight bank.

DTsea | June 27, 2014

Sorry about double post, phone thing

aljjr2 | June 27, 2014

Interesting discussion. There seems, for good reason, that technology moves to embrace new things, but sticks to the familiar. Even early adopters look to the familiar (steering wheel) are willing to accept the 17' touch screen in place of buttons.

Imagine if you will, seeing a Tesla S for the first time, with a Joy stick, touch paddles for breaking, 17' screen, camera rear view 'mirror', voice control doors and windows... all the things that are possible. I would think overwhelmed customers would run, not walk away.

Remember when Chrysler changed the seat belt and other chimes to a voice -- "fasten your seat belt", "release the brake}, you are in reverse, etc. Everyone felt NAGGED -- technology be damned. Even the first IPOD, had you scroll through your music like you were shuffling your LP's covers. New technology with a link to the familiar a great move for Apple to get people used to MP3.

New Technology seems to work best with a link to the familiar. We are creatures of habit, thus the QWERTY keyboard -- actually goes back to the type bar typewriter to keep from the type bars jamming, even before electric.

So while all is possible, Tesla like others has to balance technology with familiarity and acceptance.

We still "dial" our phones, "change" our channels and "type" on our pc's (voice input control never made it). Embrace the Tesla's Technology ...new things will emerge -- maybe with old names.

Solarwind | June 28, 2014

I think we will see the new technology arrive sooner then we think. An old guy like me is starting to use voice commands especially on phone in car. Also it is great to check spelling of a word.

Timo | June 29, 2014

Once car understands unspoken command "go there" without hesitation then we have a control that beats steering wheel. Before that, I don't see anything that could beat it. Joystick definitely is not better, it lacks the accuracy of steering wheel, and is unsafe in emergency situations (affected by rapid changes in g-forces).

Solarwind | June 29, 2014

Unspoken commands may already be possible but the present computers may have trouble deciphering the proper thoughts when a B B B crosses you path.
Steering wheel has many problems I have listed a few before but more include distractions causing the wheel to be turned. In emergency it can't be turned fast enough causing what is called overcorrection.
The new system would be interactive adjusting for speed and conditions.

Timo | June 29, 2014

And joystick you turn too fast and all around and also it doesn't have clear frame of movement, so its feedback sucks compared to steering wheel.

What's B B B?

You can have "interactive adjusting for speed and conditions" for steering wheel as well. In fact that already exists. Steering wheel not being fast enough is rarely the cause of overcorrection, it's the drivers inability to follow the car movement (reaction time), so with joystick you would still have that same problem + the rapid change of movement moving your hand so that you don't know what kind of movement you are doing right that moment.

Solarwind | June 29, 2014

What no imagination? thats the problem with steering wheels. Your going make me do it? BBB, Big Boobed Broad, Big Boobed Beauty, Big Beautiful Boobs, Big Busted Babe, Big Busted Beauty. You pick.

Timo | June 30, 2014

Guessed something like that. Had to be sure. I was thinking babes, boobs and bottoms.

Solarwind | June 30, 2014

I like yours even better!

DonS | June 30, 2014

Someone could invent a new way to manually control an automobile, but partial automation and fully autonomous vehicles will develop much faster than the 100 year old convention could be replaced. Steering wheels and pedals will be around until manual controls can be eliminated altogether.

Haeze | June 30, 2014

@Solarwind
I never said that autonomous control of cars is impossible. In fact, I believe it is inevitable. I was refuting the claim that a joystick was a better control mechanism for a car than a steering wheel. A car can not be precision driven with a joystick. There simply isn't enough travel in the limited range of a joystick, unless you make that joystick 3-feet or longer.

Timo | July 1, 2014

Also in sudden unexpected accelerations (like potholes and like) you will involuntarily turn the joystick, but steering wheel wont turn, at least not as easily. Wheel is safer in unexpected situations.

Solarwind | July 1, 2014

@Haeze
Don't believe I ever said joystick is best way to control a car. What I said is once the mechanical connection is no longer needed, then the steering wheel and pedals are obsolete. Steering wheel no longer the best way. Electric wheelchairs do well without steering wheels, yet a few still exist. (carts)

Timo | July 1, 2014

Steering wheel becomes obsolete once you have better control mechanism. There is none yet, and removing physical connection does not make some better method of steering magically appear.

Red Sage ca us | July 2, 2014

DonS: +1 UP! Exactly what I was thinking. We've deleted the choke, handbrake, clutch, four-on-the-floor shifter... Also perfected hands only controls for those without use of their feet. That pretty much does it until we get telekinetic or cybernetic mind control of vehicles or self-driving cars arrive fully and are perfected.

Timo | July 2, 2014

Self-driving car is not perfect until it understand unspoken command "go there" and that pretty much requires some sort of cybernetics.

Haeze | July 2, 2014

@Solarwind
You seem to take the extreme every time you get defensive. I never said you claimed the Joystick was the best way to steer a car. It is simply the ONLY steering mechanism you have mentioned, aside from some imaginary neural interface, and you have said it is better than the steering wheel. I was refuting that claim. You even said that a steering wheel was worse than a joystick because of its limited reponse time that will lead to overcompensating... when actually the long-travel of a steering wheel cause the exact opposite. You have very fine, and precise control with a steering wheel that is not possible with the short-throw of a joystick. Also, power steering systems already have speed-sensitive assist (They have since the 1980s), so they already adjust the sensitivity of the wheel as your speed increases.