Self-driving is a concept that is not easy for many motorists to accept. Leading automotive supplier Continental has developed an input device that will make the transition from manual to automated driving more seamless.
Besides informing vehicle occupants when automated or manual driving is possible, Smart Control also can be used to initiate driving maneuvers, Continental says in a news release.
In the case of manual driving, Smart Control retracts into the center console so it just serves as a touchpad. When the vehicle comes to a section of road where highly or fully automated driving is feasible, Smart control rises from the center console and the driver can activate the automated driving mode. The device works like a joystick and provides the operator with variable haptic feedback.
Smart Controlkeeps the occupants of the vehicle informed about the current driving mode by ligting up in a specific color and working in tandem with other cockpit elements like the digital instrument cluster. Thus, the driver is in the loop and more likely to stay alert, even while the car is in automated-driving mode.
Jennifer Wahnschaff, head of instrumentation & driver HMI-Continental North America said that the company calls this cooperative automation as all the driving tasks like maintaining lane discipline and minimum distance are all performed by the vehicle without the driverʼs involvement, but the
driver also has the option to initiate more complex driving tasks like passing maneuvers by giving commands to the vehicle. These tasks are then performed automatically.
The driver also can use Smart Control to choose from different types of information displays on the digital instrument cluster, ranging from one showing maximum surrounding visualization, which is basically an overview of all road users in the vicinity to a reduced view that shows only the sections of road ahead. This function will slowly foster trust in automated driving by providing the right amount of information at all times.
Wahnschaff said that automated vehicles can become successful only if they gain widespread acceptance and trust from the users. Continental intends to do this with Smart Control that provides users with a holistic human-machine interface which updates users and allows them to control driving maneuvers with intuitive interaction concepts. Smart Control will serve as a new element for interaction between user and vehicle. Smart Control also comes with a function to bar unintentional operation by recognizing whether the driver accidentally touched the device or actually pressed something.
Currently, Continental is testing the device in its Cruising Chauffeur (SAE Level 3, conditional automation) development vehicles. The company says that the device can be modified on an individual basis for specific manufacturers.
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