Steering device (Yoke) design and infoPosted by john-trotter on August 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm
What are the thoughts about steering: wheel, yoke, or stick? The current format is a squashed square wheel, which seem functionally not far from the new Tesla yoke, except the Aptera still has stalks. Ideally, designers could get real-world feedback from Tesla owners who actually have the stalkless yoke and see if the simple elegance is in fact a good idea. (Non-users, like myself, would have no vote.) In theory, it is a simplification and, as such, would fit the Aptera design ethos.
Beyond that, however, it seems to me that torque vectoring requires a degree of drive-by-wire and that in turn should allow stick control, a la jet fighters. This would provide even more forward crash space. It would also allow the big screen to move toward the driver a bit.
The stalkless yoke would probably be too big a change for the first edition, but who knows? Obviously, stick-control is only a distant option, but this group might want to discuss.
- 105 Replies
- MemberAugust 29, 2021 at 6:57 pm
Tesla’s yoke and stalkless control is a dreadful idea. I have the Model 3, the windshield wipers have to be controlled from the screen or via voice, that was a mistake on Tesla’s part, you can get one swipe from the button on one of the stalks but you can’t turn them on and off that way, if the autowipers worked perfectly it wouldn’t matter but that function doesn’t work very well. You should be able to do all of the important functions from the steering wheel via touch without having to look away from the road. Tesla also put capacitive buttons on the yoke, another bad idea. You should be able to do everything without looking and know that you’ve engaged the function purely by feel. The gear shift should also be a stalk in the wheel, Tesla got this right on the 3 but not on the new S. I had a Volt before the Tesla, they put the shifter in the center console instead of on the wheel, they wanted it to look like a four on the floor manual. But EVs don’t have transmissions let alone manuals, wasting space in the center is idiotic. The Volt’s shifter was also unreliable, I had to have mine replaced, it was done under warranty but something as simple as the forward and reverse controls in an EV should never fail.
- MemberAugust 29, 2021 at 8:33 pm
I think, in all cases regarding user interface engineering, we need a reasonable size sample of Aptera driver experience to get a “Majority” perspective on what is good and what needs to change in the next iteration of the Aptera should it be another three wheel or a four wheel version. That won’t come for a while.
At any rate, theses discussions are moot as the engineering is complete on Beta (Now need to build and test) and we will see only small adjustments from now through to Delta.
At any rate, I personally am overjoyed to get an Aptera as currently configured which in my view, is bleeding edge progress in the EV world.
- MemberAugust 30, 2021 at 3:56 pm
In the absence of some proven, consequential advantage, I’d prefer to stick to traditional controls. Especially, I think purely drive by wire controls with no physical link should be avoided.
- MemberOctober 21, 2021 at 9:48 am
Wheel, preferably roundish (the rounded rectangle is probably acceptable, but I’ve never driven with a non-round wheel before).
I do NOT want drive by wire. Having driven cars that cut power while driving*, if they had used drive by wire, I would have wrecked them.
* I’ve had this happen in 3 different cars over my lifetime. One was a bad fuel system (happened when turning sometimes, but it was my first car and it was better than not having a car ;). The other 2 were cars that had electrical problems (one off problems, but they lost power while driving).
- MemberMarch 4, 2022 at 3:55 am
First off I don’t think the removable wheel will happen because that’s where the air bag is.
As for round, square, yoke or Flavor of the month, it has to appeal to the masses more than the niche’ crowd. This is a start up company and it needs to hit the ground running. It can’t make objects that could possibly turn clients off. Make the yoke an option (maybe except for extra cost in parts) or an aftermarket item.
Controls – again keep them where most folks are used to them, on the column as signal/wiper controls. The car looks cool and futuristic. Some love it and some hate it but let’s make it so they don’t have to take a course in Future Tech to be able to drive it.
Not a fan of drive by wire because there’s no tactile feel to it. But I understand they have to do what they have to do for weight, cost and aerodynamics.
At this stage of development they can’t go back to square one for major redesigns.
- MemberMarch 4, 2022 at 11:50 am
A few minutes ago I watched “Dynamic Testing” video again. When the Aptera was going through the Moose Test, the driver never turned the wheel further than 90 degrees and never moved his hands on the wheel. So, a yoke will work.
- MemberMarch 4, 2022 at 5:42 pm
Stick please! Make it drive by wire, center console mounted, with a Y shaped handle and dual controls like a light sport aircraft? Then you can drive from either side!
- MemberMarch 4, 2022 at 7:01 pm
I enjoyed this video. He said the yoke was not so much a problem for him, as much as the buttons on it. Also, the horn is not controlled by the center of the wheel, but a small button on the side. His comments start at time 11:00.
- MemberMarch 5, 2022 at 9:42 pm
I’m beginning to not care anymore. This is already going to be a polarizing vehicle. If they want to make it that much less desirable for normal people, fine, whatever.
Losing my sale because of weird controls isn’t going to matter to the rest of you.
- MemberMarch 6, 2022 at 12:33 pm
I have driven Cars with Wheels, Tillers, Yokes, but not Stick (Steering).
Have Flown Aircraft with Yoke and Center or Side Stick at either side. (and steered with Footbrakes/Rudder Pedals).
Have driven Bicycles with Handlebars, Tiller and Stick Single, and Double (Tank Type).
Have Piloted Boats with Wheel and Tiller.
UTVs with Wheel, Yoke, and Tank-Style Twin Sticks.
Brains are Wonderful things: They pretty easily ADAPT!
If this is “Steer By Wire”, it will be Beloved By the Handicapped! Cheapest Handicapped Vehicle Conversion!
- MemberMarch 7, 2022 at 4:54 pm
Wow, reading through this thread, I did not realize the steering method was such a point of contention! Of my top 100 concerns about the Aptera, steering wheel versus yoke does not make the list. I’ll buy it regardless of that particular configuration.
Personally though, my ideal setup would be a yoke with stalks. I like low profile design of the yoke as I regularly bump my knees into the full-size steering wheels in my compact sedan. In addition, I feel like a regular steering wheel would obstruct the view of the HUD. Lastly, (but least important) I feel like a yoke better matches the aesthetic of the Aptera.
Regarding stalks, while stalkless does look better, I prefer the tactile feedback of stalks.
My only other comment would be that I do not want an exclusively drive-by-wire system.
- MemberMarch 7, 2022 at 6:50 pm
Also I don’t want to take my hands off the wheels to operate basic vehicle contols like lights/signals/wipers. Steering wheel buttons I would probably be fine with, but definitely not digging through a touch screen/looking away from the road to find them
- ModeratorMarch 10, 2022 at 7:13 pm
Six months after this question was first posted, it still draws “enthusiastic” comments. Nice. Will it have changed the design? Nah. Probably still a squarish circular wheel, with stalks. Fine with me, but after reading from a contributor with stick experience, I think we need to push for the 2030 model to go that route. Not because of need, but because of cool.
- MemberMarch 29, 2022 at 4:10 pm
It looks like aptera is going full in on the yoke. I guess the people inline behind me get to move foward a space. I probably wouldn’t actually have such a strong opinion if I didn’t actually try driving a yoke through mildy twist streets. They’re terrible regardless of how easy they make dash design. It’s strange I never had a problem seeing my instrument panels on any other vehicle with a full wheel.
- MemberMarch 30, 2022 at 2:31 am
If the yoke is fly by wire, I want one. I think a lot of the discussion is based on experience with a linear system of steering input. Fair enough, most have experienced the old recirculating ball steering box with up to 8 turns lock to lock, and rack & pinion with as little as 2 turns lock to lock. My first experience with non linear controls was a long time ago, but a fly by wire system that reduces sensitivity/range as speed increases and with a progressive increase in response to input at larger deflections of the controls becomes very natural very quick.
Electric power steering on most cars today already adjusts assistance relative to speed and most people do not notice.
Imagine the difference between fixed linear controls at 200Kts on landing & the same controls at FL580 @ Mach 2.2. The technology to make it seamless has been around for while, nearly as long as the requirement for bloody external rear view mirrors.
- MemberMarch 30, 2022 at 6:42 am
I think it would be fun to have a small stick. Fwd movement controls speed, aft movement controls braking, left and right for steering. No foot pedals, no steering wheel, just the stick.
- MemberMarch 31, 2022 at 2:16 pm
I have yet to see if the steering is mechanical or fly by wire. Electrical steering can be either. Many new vehicles are fly by wire and most people can not tell the difference. Some times the only way I knew which was which was to pop the hood or look at the steering rack. Fly by wire gives more choices on the steer yoke/wheel position (left/right/up/down/in/out) and less weight than mechanical. power usage is about the same for fly by wire and electrical steering. Mechanical you may be able to steer without power depending on the design.
- MemberMarch 31, 2022 at 2:47 pm
- MemberApril 5, 2022 at 9:03 am
I’m glad to see yoke discussions popping up all over the place. I hate the current smiley face version. I weighed the pros and cons of having a yoke. I came to the conclusion that a yoke would fit well in the style of an Aptera. OK, I’ll just have to change the yoke to something I can stand looking at. A search of aftermarket yokes yielded too few choices. I found none with heated rims.
I took a road trip this weekend and paid attention to my preferred grip locations on the wheel. The majority was one hand at 12 o’clock. A lesser amount was 4 and/or 8 o’clock with thumbs wrapping to the inside of the wheel. Backing up was 10 and/or 2 o’clock with just my palm on the wheel to spin it. Grip locations are also dependent upon arm rest locations. We have 3 different vehicles and all seem to be different.
Then I thought of my training, experience, and muscle memory during emergency maneuvering. I live in the land of careless animals, icy roads, and pot holes. 58 years of muscle memory is not to be capriciously discarded.
To all that say don’t knock it till you try it, know that your argument is a part strawman and part false dilemma logical fallacy. There are other methods to accurately measure individual suitability.
I’m OK with you steering your ride with a balloon animal. My Aptera will have a wheel.
- MemberApril 6, 2022 at 3:37 am
I think a yoke would be ok.
As far as controls go …….
– Anything you have to hit fast ….. blinkers, horn, headlights, wipers should be in a fixed location so that you will have a fast reaction by developing muscle memory.
– Anything that is nice to have but not critical to driving can go on the front of the yolk….. radio volume, phone control.
– I believe the horn should go in the middle of the yoke because it is the first thing you punch in an emergency when you are stressed and have no time to think …
- MemberApril 29, 2022 at 4:39 am
I’m trying to keep an open mind on the yoke. I understand the inherent safety in not resting your hand on the top of a wheel, since a deploying airbag would likely shatter your wrist. Having an unobstructed view of the recently-added “secondary” display – which I’m assuming will incorporate video from the side-mounted cameras – is a plus. The lingering issue I have is the hand-over-hand movements needed to turn lock-to-lock. Since the first beta prototype was largely about sorting out the suspension, I’m not concerned that that mechanical steering that is currently installed is the final word. Again, it’s a test mule. So, I guess the question before the team is: will the Aptera be drive-by-wire to reduce the number of full wheel turns needed to go lock-to-lock? Lexus just released a graphic of how they intend to implement their system. (See: https://jalopnik.com/how-lexus-got-the-yoke-right-unlike-tesla-1848854735 )
- MemberJune 14, 2022 at 10:26 am
I wish Aptera could provide an explanation of how the yoke will work and their reasoning behind it. The presentation of the advantages of the yoke in the just completed webinar were muddled by DesignSpeak, but what it boils down to seems, if you read between the words, to amount to aesthetic preference, wanting to appear futuristic, and providing visibility to the rear side view screens.
That’s well and good enough, although I could have lived without the not-so-subtle put downs of those of us who have reservations, but it offers no insight into how the Yoke will work.
How many turns lock to lock will it require? Will the steering system have variable ratios? Will it simply be a yoke stuck on to a normal 2+turns lock to lock steering system, such as Tesla uses?
It’s no longer a deal breaker for me, but the evasiveness on an issue of concern to many doesn’t give me confidence.
- MemberJune 14, 2022 at 12:13 pm
My take: it’s for (1) visibility of the driver-centered screen and (2) cool factor / futuristic aesthetics / Tesla copycatting. I’m sympathetic to the former, but hostile to the latter.
And while they haven’t stated so explicitly (as far as I’m aware), I’d be willing to bet the bulk of my life savings that there will be nothing unique about the steering ratios. Like you said, it’ll be just like Tesla did, slapping on a yoke onto a conventional steering column.
- MemberJune 15, 2022 at 4:21 pm
Does anybody know whether the steering will be mechanical (like the alphas) or electronic (like the Tesla). If its mechanical, level two self driving is out. If its electronic and most yokes (electronic) are a small number of turns (lock to lock) instead of what you are all used to with most cars with round steering wheels (around 1260 degrees lock to lock on my cars, 3 1/2 turns), don’t you think that the yoke is not going to be a problem if you are not turning it all the way around? Sure Tesla electronic steering is 2.3 turns lock to lock (828 degrees) which some articles say is crap for in city and parking lots, but not on the road. But formula one steering yokes usually turn 360 degrees lock to lock and have an electronic adjustment on the wheel itself. So maximum turn of the wheel (yoke) is 180 degrees in each direction so the driver never has to let go with either hand. Just because Tesla has installed a yoke on a steering system that should use less turns (lock to lock) that doesn’t mean Aptera has to make the same mistake. In fact there should be an adjustment on every yoke so the driver can determine how many turns it takes to go from full left to full right. I assume Tesla could fix their “mistake” with a software update that gives the driver this adjustment. Aptera should too, assuming we have electronic steering.
- ModeratorJune 16, 2022 at 5:31 am
@Francis Giroux autonomous driving systems don’t care if the steering is “mechanical (yoke connected to the steering rack)” or “electronic (drive by wire)”, it just needs to be remotely controllable and eventually Aptera will have that. The lock to lock amount will likely be fixed, we just don’t know what the amount is or will be.
- ModeratorJune 17, 2022 at 5:11 am
Hi, Bob. I too have had reservations about the yoke choice. I would have welcomed a more in-depth explanation of the yoke, but given the small number of questions addressed in the Q&A section of the livestream, I’m glad we got what we did from Jason H.
Like you, a key question I have is how many turns lock-to-lock the yoke will require. I’ll get used to the yoke, but a variable steering ratio would make the yoke medicine go down more easily. A quicker rather than slower steering ratio would be an attractive feature in my book. I suspect that the final decision on whether it’s going to be variable ratio vs. “straight” steering like Tesla has not yet been made, despite Gary’s sharp-eyed observation about how the steering breadboarding appeared in the video that was shown during the recent livestream. I presume that is why we haven’t heard anything definitive or detailed yet. Kerbe2705 suggested this earlier in this thread.
- MemberJune 17, 2022 at 7:15 am
The yoke looks like it’s just squared off at the top, there is still something to grip. I suspect that it will be workable. Turning radius is more important in parking lots, I’m hoping for a tight radius but until someone drives the Gamma we won’t know.