Toyota Testing Joystick Control for Cars

Lately we've seen a few futuristic concept cars that sport aircraft-like dashboards and controls, so the news that Toyota is experimenting with joystick control isn't all that surprising. Frankly, gripping an airplane-type controller with two hands seems a bit more safer, however the joystick scenario--along with collision-detection artificial intelligence--may be the way to go in the next decade.

According to PC World, Toyota demonstrated the joystick control in a few concept cars today at the Tokyo Motor Show. The site describes the first concept car, the FT-EV II, as an electric car built for short trips. Despite its extreme compact design, the car provides seating for four passengers, and uses drive-by-wire technology that enables the dual-stick (one for the left-handed, one for the right-handed perhaps) joystick control.

PC World also said that the second concept car, the i-Real, looked more like a futuristic chair on wheels than an actual automobile. This concept car also uses two joysticks developed by Tokai Rika, one at the end of each armrest. This vehicle provides seating for only one passenger, and uses no pedals whatsoever.

PC World added that developer Tokai Rika displayed two additional prototypes at its booth as well, with one system using only one joystick. Moving the joystick left and right turned the car in the intended direction, while pushing the joystick forward accelerated the car, and pulling back slowed it down. The other prototype incorporated thumb buttons that controlled the acceleration and braking. Scary.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • frozenlead
    It would be better if the accelerator and directional controls were split among two control sticks (more like an aircraft).

    I'd have to try it to say something about it. It's hard to think something would replace the wheel...but then again, the automatic transmission has practically replaced the manual one. It's not as an extreme shift as going from a wheel to a stick, but just an example.
  • It's like the Men In Black 2 movie; when the "flying car" is driven by using a PS2 simil joystick!!!! hehehe
  • mlopinto2k1
    I don't know about the whole acceleration/brake idea, MAYBE for steering. I don't know about that either. I like to be able to "HOLD" onto something while I am steering especially when I need to make split decisions to avoid a collision and such. Well, to each is own.
  • jellico
    Ok, I hate to throw a bucket of cold water on the flames of innovation but... why? Has the steering wheel suddenly become inadequate to the task of controling the direction of an automobile? I submit that it would take a LONG time for people to embrace this technology since the steering wheel has been around longer than most people have been alive. Any attempts to force this... evolution... would result in a massive increase in the number of traffic accidents since people would likely become confused in an emergency maneuver situation (muscle memory usually takes over in situations like that).

    On the positive side, this would be great for handicapt drivers.
  • jednx01
    Nice article.... But really, do you guys even edit your articles any more? "a bit more safer"?! Grammar guys, grammar.
  • ktasley
    with two hands seems a bit more safer...
    ktasleywith two hands seems a bit more safer...I have to agree
  • ikefu
    My concern: what happens when the automatic steering goes out or the a cable to the joystick frays/disconnects.

    In a car today, if the steering pump goes out you can still turn the car with the steering wheel (although with a lot more strength needed) since its directly attached to the wheel assemblies. If you have a joystick and its stops working and no passenger to take over then you're toast.

    Maybe there is a good answer for that one, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.
  • aje21
    Mercedes tested this idea years ago and found that new drivers could learn to control the car more quickly (and with better control) using a joystick vs. wheel and pedals (cars were automatic transmission in both cases). Much like the joystick on modern fighter aircraft it used force-sensing rather than movement when steering, but I seem to recall it had some fore-aft movement for braking and acceleration.
  • tayb
    Irrelevant. We won't be driving our own cars by the time something like this could ever become main stream. I give it 20 years at the most before humans are taken out of the driving equation.