Spaceship controls

Spaceship controls

"Wait until you see the real steering controls and system for the 3. It feels like a spaceship."

I've seen a lot of speculation about steering wheel shape and control buttons and paddles. That's so yesterday.

I'd love a sidestick, just like the controls on spaceships or modern fighter aircraft. Left, right, throttle, brake, all in one hand. Complete and total drive-by-wire. Yes, it'd make it more challenging to drive while texting with one hand and holding a cheeseburger in the other (I use my knee and cruise control in that case), but it sure would make those long-distance drives a bit easier - place the arm on the adjustable armrest, grab the stick, and go. With modern feedback techniques, it would be zero effort - the "centered" position with no forces applied would tell the car "keep doing what you're doing" - steering, braking, speed, etc. You'd only apply force or displacement to change something.

That also provides a convenient yet subtle place to put buttons and switches. Look at a modern Gamers joystick, with 15 or more controls available with no more than a slight movement of the finger. There's no longer a need to try to tastefully integrate 15 different buttons on the giant, glaringly obvious design element shoved in your face; instead they sit down out of the way at the end of the armrest.

I no longer need to be able to slide past the wheel on my way into or out of the car; the drivers seating position is just as easy to get into as the passengers location. I no longer need to adjust the front seats to be able to set the distance to the pedals (or adjust the pedals) to be comfortable; I just need to be able to adjust an armrest. For those tall drivers, you get an extra 6-12 inches of legroom because you no longer need to leave room for the pedals.

The dash is now completely opened up for the designer - there's no need to place lights, gauges, controls where they won't be covered for the 90% of drivers. I don't know what you put there (and in reveal #1, it wasn't clear that the designers knew either) - but it's a giant blank slate that the interior designers get to be creative with.

And the car is handicap accessible for many from the factory and off the lot.

I like it!

The flying hippie | 5 avril 2016

It could have a folding table like an Airbus!

Red Sage ca us | 5 avril 2016

I want hard light holographic controls such as those seen in MASS EFFECT...

Nic727 | 6 avril 2016

I hope it will not be ugly.

I just want something simple like they did with Model S and X. I don't want 50 buttons on my steering wheel.

Ross1 | 7 avril 2016

@ Red Sage: go to for the best and brightest advances on holographics

Morlandoemtp061383 | 7 avril 2016

I believe the steering wheel will be a throwback to the 80's show knight rider.

Red Sage ca us | 7 avril 2016

It seems that Franz von Holzhausen had a very particular idea in mind from the outset for the cockpit and control system.

finman100 | 7 avril 2016

Thanks RS! I now have a new desktop pic to mull over for about 2 years. very nice indeed.

Tropopause | 7 avril 2016

"Do not open until Xmas" ... of 2017. ;)

brando | 7 avril 2016

@frank99 I encourage Tesla to be so bold. With employee reservations, Tesla has plenty of people to test out your ideas. With all the auto pilot tools to keep "fly by wire" joystick from doing something stupid - why not?

Great Public Relations, no?
And be prepared for Big auto to try and out-law these ideas.

MarlonBrown | 7 avril 2016

I dont believe the sketch above with that half open steering wheels means that is how it looks like. I have seen many other car makers sketching something similar in order to create an opening so that the drawing is more visible, displaying the dashboard. That said, how about a wheel in which you could control forward acceleration and break by pressing the wheel forward? Like an airplane wheel that you pull towards you if you want plane to take off?

brando | 7 avril 2016

Wanted to add my "thinking out of the box" idea.

Air suspension cars rise up to add temporary 2nd battery pack to bottom of the standard battery pack.
This increases the range (at most doubles - perhaps less). Battery swap idea didn't catch on, but perhaps this idea would. And obviously much of what was learned with battery swap would apply to this idea.

Could this idea work with both sedan and SUV?

Red Sage ca us | 8 avril 2016

MarlonBrown: Well, actually... The steering wheel is only about 1/4 open at most, possibly as little as 15%, if you account for the angle. There is a cutaway, but that is for the A-Pillar.

Ross1 | 9 avril 2016

The suspension doesn't rise much, not enough, does it, owners?

And on the Citroen suspension, it is speed limited for the 2 optional heights and feels like it is up on tippy toes. Most unstable.

Ross1 | 9 avril 2016

What spaceship would Elon be referring to?
A Falcon, or a science fiction film?
Bring on some pics!

Sparky | 9 avril 2016

The sketch appears to show thumb buttons at the top of the cutout horns on the steering wheel. Could be for turn signals, which would also activate the autopilot lane change feature. Or display selection on a HUD. Or photon torpedoes. Very "spaceship" like. Hmmmmm...

Chunky Jr. | 9 avril 2016

Maybe they will have a very wide screen that extends along the blank area of the dash. That would feel kind of space ship like - lots of info spread out along the dash. Cool graphics could make it feel very futuristic and not like a traditional car.

mbb | 9 avril 2016

Yep. Without the steering wheel, you just need one screen on the dashboard front and center. I like it!

cephellow | 9 avril 2016

@Chunky, long display, that's what I was thinking. Not so hard to do with OLED.
No matter what 'spaceship' means, the low slung forward positioned dash will remain. The whole theme of the car is 'interior spaciousness', and that will be preserved.

Chunky Jr. | 9 avril 2016

A while back Elon said that model 3 won't look like regular cars, and part of that could be the design of the dash. Functional yet cool and different. Something you wouldn't see on another car.

joe.kraemer23 | 9 avril 2016

When I saw the simple and clean dashboard, I thought of a huge head-up display with everything on it: speed, battery, range ect. and very special: framing of objects detected by camera and radar. That would be spaceship like.
No more shocked by deers at the side of the road at night.

jordanrichard | 9 avril 2016

They are not going to go with a joystick. in lieu of a steering wheel. Way too much of a change. That would require people to relearn how to drive. It is enough of a challenge to teach people about the differences between a Tesla and an ICE which many people will be coming from. This is also assuming the DOT/NHSTA would even allow such a thing.

I also doubt the cutout wheel in the sketch will make it to production. I am sure there are rules governing the steering wheels just as there are rules/regulations governing just about every aspect of cars.

Ross1 | 9 avril 2016

Well perhaps the dash will set it apart. I am still rooting for holographs.

But the rest of the car is not so different and IMO leans towards Franz's years at Mazda.

Bubba2000 | 9 avril 2016

Model S looks and steering controls were made as close as regular ICE autos. The steering wheel looks like Mercedes. It was easily accepted by the consumer. Model 3 is for the mass market, not just techies and gamers. I hope Model 3 retains familiar controls on the steering wheel. It is also important to have some kind of display in front for info like GPS direction, speed, range, etc. looking at the 15" display on the side is too distracting.

mbb | 9 avril 2016

Since getting rid of the steering wheel is impractical, how about getting rid of the top half or portion of the steering wheel? That will drastically improve the visibility of the display on the dashboard

mos6507 | 9 avril 2016

"Maybe they will have a very wide screen that extends along the blank area of the dash. That would feel kind of space ship like - lots of info spread out along the dash. Cool graphics could make it feel very futuristic and not like a traditional car."

The Nissan IDS concept pretty much turns the entire dashboard into an iPad-like screen. This would be a very cool thing to do, but probably costly.

Ross1 | 10 avril 2016

I have never been in a spaceship.

I hope the Nissan IDS makes it to production as (turning over) a new Leaf. Love those double side doors.