Babenhausen, October 11, 2017
Technology company Continental has developed a central input device to allow car drivers to have the function to monitor the vehicle in vehicles that are fully automated or that are driven autonomously. Smart Control, the input device, transparently and intuitively informs vehicle occupants if automated driving or manual driving is possible and can also be used to control driving maneuvers.
“The success of automated vehicles depends on the user’s trust and acceptance. We achieve this with a holistic human-machine interface, which transparently informs users with intuitive interaction concepts and which enables them to control driving maneuvers. With Smart Control, we have developed a new element for the dialogue between user and vehicle,” says Dr Frank Rabe, Head of Instrumentation and Driver HMI Business Unit, Continental.
At Continental, one of the important features of the Smart Control is termed as “co-operative automation”. This means that the vehicle performs simple driving tasks such as keeping to the correct lane, completely independently, while the driver gives instructions for complex driving tasks such as overtaking on the freeway, which the vehicle then performs automatically.
As an element in the center console of the car, it continuously informs vehicle occupants of the current driving mode using a kinematics function. During manual driving phases, it disappears into the center console so the driver can use a touchpad, to control infotainment, for example. When the car is on a section of road, the device comes out of the center console and the driver can activate automation. The device can be operated like a joystick supported by haptic feedback which confirms driver instructions. A function that recognises whether the driver actually pressed something or touched the device accidentally prevents unintentional operation. The input device, together with other elements in the cockpit, such as a digital instrument cluster, lights up in a specific color, keeping the user’s attention at an optimal level, even during automated driving. An ergonomics test to identify the appropriate form and materials for a high-quality, functional design, which can be modified for specific manufacturers.
The input device can also be used to switch between different information displays on the digital instrument cluster – from maximum surroundings visualisation, which displays all road users in the immediate vicinity, to a drastically reduced view that shows only sections of road ahead. This ensures a safe division of tasks between the driver and vehicle.
The trial for Smart Control is conducted in Continental test vehicles and driving simulators to further test the concept of cooperative automation.