Ford’s 3D Printed Stick Shift

(Wired) Ford engineers want to make manual transmission a bit easier to adjust to and have designed a new 3D printed shift knob that tells drivers when to shift based on haptic feedback. Zach Nelson, a junior engineer at Ford, removed the haptic feedback motor from an Xbox 360 controller and put it inside a custom shifter he printed on a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic. He installed an Arduino controller and connected an Android tablet with a mini-USB port and a Bluetooth receiver, then tapped the Mustang’s on-board diagnostic system using Ford’s open source OpenXC software platform.

Using that information, the shift knob can be programmed to vibrate as the engine approaches redline (good for performance runs) or its most efficient shift point (for better fuel economy). It can even be programmed to tell an absolute beginner when to shift, in case the howl of a 5.0 approaching 7,000 RPM isn’t a big enough clue.