Reinventing Driving


The  GM CAROusel explores the possibilities of selectable driving positions and driving controls. These capabilities give the driver the freedom of selecting where to sit and how to drive.

The CARousel was designed to showcase what driving could be like when starting from the inside of the vehicle and working your way out. A few of the many inventions are shown here – and during the inventing process we discovered two amazing things that make driving safer.

1) By using the by-wire brake pedals on the steering wheel a driver can stop the vehicle faster than their feet. This is achieved with a shorter distance of travel for the brain to send responses to the hands than the feet. During driving trials we were able to successfully prove this safety enhancement.

2) By using the rotary hand controllers, it enables people to use them with less stress and strain as they rotate in the center rather than pivot like a joystick.  This simple shift in the pivot reduces the stress on a hand and makes it easier for anyone to use as well as people with mobility issues. A version based on this system is being used in production in Europe.


Innovative Controls



Reinventing an Industry

SELECT WHERE TO SIT: Seats are affixed to a rotating base, and that base offers variable driving positions: left-hand, right-hand, or front-and-center positions.  Selecting a seating position is simple and can be done with a remote control. Once a position has been selected, the rotating base swivels towards the desired orientation, with the front two seats synchronized to pivot and face forward.

SELECT HOW TO DRIVE: Two selectable and innovative driving controls (without conventional foot pedals) take a universal approach and allow the driver to use either the right hand, left hand, or both hands. The system is completely by-wire—there are no mechanical linkages—and it can greatly benefit disabled drivers. Either steering device moves into position when a remote-control device is used to make the selection. Applied research indicates that hand braking yields a faster response time than does foot-pedal braking.

SKATEBOARD PLATFORM: A ten-inch-thick chassis houses a rechargeable battery pack, electronic control system and the entire propulsion system with a front and rear electric drive system enabling four-wheel drive, four-wheel independent steering, and dual-direction driving, acceleration, and braking.

BY-WIRE STEERING WHEEL CONTROLS: When the driver presses downwards with the thumb, a modified steering wheel stowed under the seat (when not in use) enables acceleration; braking is achieved by pulling forward a paddle on the steering wheel. The right-hand and left hand-paddles move in harmony with the steering wheel, allowing the driver to steer right or left (with optimized efficiency due to limited steering rotation eliminating hand-over-hand driving). Neither hand has to come off the steering wheel to drive, and the system can be driven with the right hand, left hand, or with both hands. 

BY-WIRE ROTARY HAND CONTROLS: An armrest pocket and joystick-type hand controller swivels in a rotary motion for driving and pivots down into a stowage position from each side of the driver’s seat when not in use. Steering is achieved by rotating the wrist right and left (causing less stain and stress than a joystick), accelerating by pulling back the index finger, and braking by squeezing the remaining three fingers on the steering grip. If the user inadvertently squeezes the acceleration toggle and the brake grip at the same time, the system will trigger the braking function. Each hand controller is software-enhanced for driving and is synchronized with the other; each can be driven with the right hand, left hand, or with both hands.

  • Innovative Controls 85%
  • Technology Innovation 75%
  • Technology Availability 65%
  • Industry Transformation 100%

Reinventing the Automobile Program

“If we were reinventing the automobile today, what would we do?” Rick Wagoner, Chairman and CEO of General Motors

Learn about the Program



2004 TED Conference, Monterrey, California

The General Motors CARousel was unveiled at the TED Conference in February 2003. It was subsequently showcased at the Geneva International Auto show in 2004 and at Essen Motor Show in Germany in 2007 (shown as the Stile Bertone CARousel). It demonstrated a fully automated rotary platform showing the drivers position at front-center, left or right configurations as well as either the all-by-wire hand-controllers in place or the all-by-wire steering wheel.\

When the rotary hand grips rotate, the front tires rotate in show mode. A remote-control device allows the base of the CARousel to rotate, too, moving the driver’s seat from the left to the center and from the center to the right. The remote control also automates the presentation and stowage of the advanced steering wheel (as it swings out from below the seat and into place) and the articulation of the rotary hand controls (imbedded in the side arm rests).

The CARousel was characterized by its extreme flexibility of use: the driver has the opportunity to select from a range of driving positions and innovative driving controls. It leverages the foundation of the the GM AUTOnomy and Hy-Wire to become the interior design expression and technical exploration of the Reinvention of the Automobile.

1) Select your seating configuration. There are four seats, but the two front seats can move into three seating scenarios   By base beneath the seats rotates offering left-hand, right-hand and front-center driving positions.

2) Select how you want to drive. Two innovative driving controls without foot pedals are offered for universal use with the right hand, left hand, or both hands. One control is a steering wheel which cam be stowed under the seat and the other is rotary hand controllers, which position upwards from the seat sides.


LEADERSHIP TEAM: Adrian Chernoff – Chief Vehicle Architect, Chris Borroni-Bird – Program Director, Ed Welburn – Executive Director of Design

PROGRAM CHAMPIONS: CEO & Chairman Rick Wagoner and Vice President of R&D Larry Burns + support from Robert A. Lutz, Vice President of Design Wayne Cherry

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT: Adrian Chernoff Chris Borroni-Bird, Andrew Hanzel, Joseph Szczerba, Jim Embach, J. Byron McCormick, and Alan Taub

DESIGN: Wayne Cherry, Edward T. Welburn, Anne Asensio and Lead Designer: Julien Montousse

STILE BERTONE VEHICLE AND CHASSIS BUILD: Roberto Piatti, Anna Costamagna, Massimiliano Chiara, Eugenio Paliano, Claudio Marini, and Giuliano Biasio

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT: Jim Queen, Mark Hogan, Nick Pudar, Frank Saucedo, Kathy Marra, Chris Quinn, Robert Corbett, Jean McCarthy, Fred Ritche, Advanced Portfolio Exploration Group (APEX), GM Innovation Zone, Sarah DeVries, John Taylor, and John Shettler

Summarizing the CARousel

The GM CARousel is the world’s first vehicle to have been designed and built solely using math modeling CAD software. It explores design and user freedoms that have been made possible by the advances in by-wire systems. By eliminating the traditional mechanical linkages in automobiles, new driver controls and advanced-design steering wheels can be developed. In this physical and conceptual embodiment of the Reinvention of the Automobile, there are no foot pedals—instead, hand controls are used to steer, brake, and accelerate. Drivers can select from two steering controls: a steering wheel folded and stowed beneath the seat, or rotary-grip joysticks nestled in both the left and right arm rests. Due to the nature of their designs, both systems allow the driver to drive with the left or right—or both—hands, thus offering new mobility options.

All aspects of the concept were developed using Solidworks Modeling Software. They were then finessed into reality during an avant garde design-to-execution project with Stile Bertone in Italy. From design to build, every surface was modeled and built in 3-D, thus bypassing the traditional and time-consuming process of clay modeling, digital surface scans, finessing the shape in math, and then finalizing the design and engineering data for release.

The CARousel features four seats. The two front seats change positions by moving the driver from left to center-front to right. With a flick of a switch, drivers can select their driving position (center-drive, left-hand-drive, right-hand-drive) as well as choose between two unique electric steering systems. Through rigorous field testing, these new driving systems have proven themselves to be more responsive than traditional steering wheels and foot pedals (gas and brake). This technological breakthrough thus adds an extra layer of vehicle safety for both drivers and passengers.

The GM CARousel offers a vision of how to create an extremely flexible car interior that offers the freedom of selecting where to sit, where to drive, and how to drive. With its wide range of driving positions and controls, The CARousel offers unlimited possibilities for vehicle body design and quick and easy customization possibilities. The GM CARousel is based on the Hy-Wire Skateboard and the extended-range, 300-mile GM Sequel Skateboard. It possesses all of the technological advancements offered by electrified and/or zero-emissions architecture.

Berne University with VW utilizes the CARousel Driving System

With VW as their sponsor, the Berne University of Applied Science (BFH-TI) in Switzerland and the CTI (the Swiss Confederation’s innovation promotion agency) have developed a drive-by-wire steering system with joystick-type handles. The system is called Joysteer. It’s identical to the GM CARousel rotary hand controls and has taken several years to develop. The Joysteer system has already been incorporated into vehicles that are used by disabled people. Over 20 people with disabilities have utilized this system and found it to be an excellent way to steer a vehicle.

As the winner of  the Swiss Technology Award in 2006, the Joysteer may well be the future of mobility! In 2009, Joysteer (from Bozzio Ltd.) spun off from the university and went into limited production. The target market will have over 300,000 users throughout Europe. Joysteer (the car driving system) is available from Bever Car Products and is currently available for some VW and Chrysler models, with more vehicles and brands to be announced. Joysteer Video 1 Joysteer Video 2