User experience, human-machine interaction, vigilance, cognitive science, and automotive autonomy are among today’s interior buzzwords. But it’s much more, and automakers and suppliers strove to break out of the auto show’s static, passive experience by engaging attendees in a big array of interior bucks.
Mercedes Benz, for example, the MBUX, for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. This system can learn your preferences using artificial intelligence, but you can also communicate through a voice activated system, or even through a script pad. Architecture and HMI remains the same in any equipped model, with consistent screen and air duct design and position.
MBUX was shown with a front interior buck, as well in a virtual dark room.
Porsche introduced their first EV, the Taycan—even in a “turbo” version, presumably to keep performance branding continuity with fuel-burning cars, though applying that word to an electric car strikes as a bit odd. It certainly sticks in mind; perhaps that’s the point.
The cockpit has a clear structure and a completely new architecture; compared to a traditional Porsche, all interfaces have been redesigned. The curved instrument cluster forms the highest point on the dashboard. A central, 10.9-inch infotainment display and an optional passenger display are combined to form a continuous wide screen with a black-panel effect. Classic hardware controls such as switches and buttons are greatly reduced in number. Instead, control is carried out using touch screen operation or voice control, which responds to the command “Hey Porsche”. Development has been done in partnership with Croatia-based technology and sports car company Rimac, specialized in electric drive and HMI. Porsche has recently increased its stake in Rimac to 15.5 percent, after a first investment of 10% in June 2018.
Wey, a luxury SUV brand of China’s Great Wall Motors, had their AI Experiential Cockpit on display. Daily mobility scenes in Germany were simulated to give participants a taste of Chinese-style high-tech motoring.
Lüdensheid-based automotive supplier Kostal presented a level-2 driving simulator giving a pretty spectacular driving experience. It is focused on transfer of control from the steering wheel to a pad on the center console and back again.
When Kostal’s system detects appropriate and safe conditions, car controls can be operated directly from the pad—to adjust the throttle, to change lanes, or to brake. Driver vigilance is monitored through an eye tracker, steering wheel contact, and pad control, and emergency braking is activated whenever driver is detected not to be in proper control. Kostal puts a strong focus in their product strategy on smart surfaces, light signals, and interactive control panels in the interior—steering wheel, console, seats, doors, and elsewhere.
Hella showed a demonstration vehicle in the New Mobility World building. In the completely redesigned interior, various lighting arrangements support diverse scenarios of automated driving.
For example, when passengers—including a DVN passenger, as seen here—enter the vehicle they are greeted by name with interior lighting on the instrument and door panels as well as the seats. Incoming calls, for example, can be indicated by lighting signals without disturbing other passengers.
Hella management board member Dr. Frank Huber, responsible for global lighting activities, says “In the course of automated driving, the driver is increasingly becoming a passenger. Together with our partner Faurecia, we are therefore working intensively on the integration of innovative lighting solutions into the vehicle interior, which can be adapted, for example, to the respective needs of the occupants or the driving situation.”
Faurecia and Hella have also jointly worked on
functionalities improving communication and safety in automated driving
situations. This includes the division of tasks between driver and vehicle at
the end of an autonomous driving situation. The seat then brings the driver
back into the appropriate driving position and a dynamic lighting scenario is
used to increase concentration and attention.
ZF, meanwhile, showed their SHI Cockpit (for “Safe Human Interaction”) made in partnership with Faurecia. In it, advanced assistance systems and automated driving functions communicate with the driver as simply and efficiently as possible.
The seat can adjust automatically to suit all kinds of drivers across a wide variety of situations. The vehicle provides feedback on control interventions in a clear, unambiguous way, and intelligent electronic assistance makes for easy adjustments and configurations. Uwe Class, Director of Safe Mobility Systems in ZF’s Advanced Engineering department, says the system “really does simplify the handover scenarios between humans and machines. Furthermore, drivers are kept [informed] about which driving mode is active at any given time. This increases the acceptance level for these important functions”.
The SHI Cockpit advises when road traffic conditions permit automated driving. The vehicle can take over as soon as the driver lets go of the steering wheel. This is sensed by a hands-on detection function in the steering wheel system and the wheel also rises and retracts forward, but remains within range. At the same time, the seat moves backward and downward, and inclines to a steeper angle.
The SHI Cockpit uses a variety of modes to
convey information to riders: haptic (e.g., vibrating seat belt), visual (e.g.,
circulating strip of cockpit lights that vary in color), and acoustic (sounds,
voice). When the driver needs to take back control, the SHI Cockpit gives the
driver advance notice. If the driver fails to respond, the vehicle can be
programmed to go to a safe position and stop.
A 3D interior camera measures the seated driver’s height and individually adjusts the seat and the steering wheel to match that person when driving manually. To allow the driver to leave the vehicle, the seat moves back to provide easy egress and subsequent ingress.
Joyson Group, a supplier based in Ningbo, China, presented themselves as a complete system supplier. Their no-design interior demonstrator featured operating systems and HMI developed by the Preh Group, as well as innovative backlit surfaces and a linear air duct from Joysonquin Automotive Systems and active and passive safety systems from Joyson Safety Systems (formerly Key Safety Systems).
It’s presented as an “adaptive” interior, meaning adapted to autonomous driving, including folding steering wheel enabled by steer-by-wire technology, and a driving touchscreen.
To manage safe transfer of vehicle control, the system recognizes the driver’s attention state during the handover with three technologies: “DMS”, the Driver Monitoring System which uses a camera to sense the head’s tilt and direction of view; hands-on detection with sensors in the steering wheel to detect the position of the hands and evaluate vital functions such as pulse and skin conductivity, and a light bar positioned in the driver’s field of view provides visual feedback in critical driving situations or information about the degree of autonomous driving.
The center console integrates a linear air duct with invisible slats, a backlit surface decor, and touch module. The seat has a motorized seat belt, a belt-integrated airbag, and illuminated belt lock and the belt carrier to maintain safety in various occupant positions—including lying down—and can replace the conventional front airbag. A sensor for seat identification, which is required for the interaction between seatbelt tensioning and airbag deployment, is just as much a part of the seat as a pre-crash side airbag. Watch for more information about Preh products in the next Newsletter.