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CARE and Value in Automotive HMI

18 March 2020

In preparation for the FISITA Automotive HMI Online Conference next week, we wanted to bring together some background as an introduction to the topic. We asked Faurecia Senior Vice President & Chief Technical Officer Christophe Aufrère, who is moderating the conference, a few questions and here are his answers: 

1.  What are the key HMI challenges that you face today?

First of all, I’d like to say that Faurecia is a full interior player and can work at the system level to propose new experiences and solutions. Second, the automotive industry is moving to CARE (Connected, Autonomous, Ride sharing, Electrified) and all these aspects will have an influence on the HMI. For example, more connectivity and car automation will bring additional services which will give the possibility to continue work activities within the car or to have immersive gaming experiences from cloud-based software. In terms of functionality, the HMI will have to be intuitive, personalized to each user, versatile to adapt the occupant environment to the task. The main challenges are the technology, the technical performance, the integration capacity, the economic and the possibility to update and upgrade the solutions.

 2.  You have been talking about the “Cockpit of the Future” for several years and, from the images you have shared during this time, it looks like you began thinking about the driver with a traditional steering wheel and displays and controls around the driver, but more recent images show retractable steering wheels and bigger displays shared between driver and passenger(s). How do you predict this transition will unfold with regard to:

a. Availability of manual (“override”) controls to the “driver” and potentially other occupants

b. The evolution of individual to shared adaptive displays (and other “experiences” e.g. audio, thermal, safety) for the “driver” and passengers

c. The role of the driver

d. The role of the passenger(s)

Cockpit of the Future is a top-down approach which starts with the search for valuable experiences. The experience, if we want it to be interactive or controlled, has to be closed-loop, which means that we have to integrate actuators but also sensing technologies, algorithms and most of the time artificial intelligence. This loop is key for us if we want to manage and control the experience as well as, consequently, the way to deal with the HMI. The HMI is taking a major role in the experience and can take different forms like touch, sound, gesture or visual and can concern the driver, other occupants or all occupants at the same time. In addition, HMI can allow predictivity by identifying occupants and anticipate their needs in terms of comfort, infotainment or any other experience. Another aspect that we take into account for the HMI is the interaction between the car and the driver as the driving will be more and more shared, in a near future, between the car and the driver which means that for some driving phases the driver will have to control the car and for other phases, the car will have to monitor the driver especially if he has to re-engage from an autonomous drive phase. Therefore the interactions can be multiple we can have interactions from the car to the driver, from the driver to the car and also between the occupants.

But whether or not we have a steering wheel is not the main driver for understanding that the front passenger of today will be the same as the front occupant of an autonomous car tomorrow, as we can already anticipate the needs and solutions. We can do this by being ready to physically adapt the interior mainly through increasing the kinematic range as there will be more freedom if there is no need for a driver.

Immersive or individual sound experience, thermal comfort adapted to each occupant, wellness activities, gaming, watching movies, professional working, occupant profiling, occupants monitoring system are examples of our current focus, safety being a  must-have for all the experiences and display technologies being key for most of them.

Faurecia, with their strategic partners, has all the technologies to propose innovative cockpits for the future.

 3. In 2016, Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller predicted that autonomous cars would represent 5% of car volume by 2030, what is your current view of this? (https://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20161219/NEWS/161219820/faurecia-ceo-eyes-acquisitions-to-help-create-cockpit-of-the-future)

Our current view is to acknowledge that fully autonomous vehicles for private applications will not come as soon as expected but there will be some level 3 and 4 coming for premium vehicles which will enable us to integrate new experiences. On the other hand, there will be professional mobility objects for dedicated tasks on defined areas which will be autonomous. They will look like existing cars or buses but there will also be autonomous shuttles with specific design transporting passengers or goods.

 4. Autonomous cars offer the opportunity of improved mobility to many people who cannot currently independently use cars – disabled people and minors in particular – are you considering these groups in your current thinking where the driver may not actually be in the vehicle or may not be able to manually intervene (e.g. a parent sending a child to school or a severely disabled person).

An ageing population is a societal trend. Older people have the same issues as disabled people. So, the autonomous car will bring mobility to these populations. This is why in our research we look for physically adaptive interiors to answer this trend. I can also add that ingress and egress are key parameters to contribute to a successful journey. Regarding minors, the main point for us is to provide them with the right level of security vis a vis others whatever the time of the day and for each kind of issue they could be facing including a breakdown of the vehicle in non-secured areas.

 5. Faurecia is a leader in emission control technology – are there new emission challenges in the era of autonomous vehicles or is it all looking positive?

The first challenge is to answer the stringent CO2 regulations which are coming in 2030. This will lead, for example, to electrification of all vehicles (Mild hybrid to BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) in Europe from 2025. By 2030 we should still have 80 to 85% of the market equipped with an ICE (internal combustion engine). The level of NOx and particulate emissions will drop as well taking into account new test cycle conditions for example. Faurecia, as a technology leader, has all new technologies to answer that. On the other hand, Faurecia is developing battery packs as well as Fuel cell systems to propose solutions for zero-emission vehicles.

What the autonomous car will bring is the ability to anticipate actions and therefore adjust its behaviour regarding braking, accelerating and stopping. This will potentially lead to an energy need reduction for about 15% for an ICE engine to around 5% for an electric car. But if we consider that the autonomous vehicle will be electric then there will be no emissions at the usage level and if the car is shared the global energy efficiency of the travel will be much higher. In addition, the energy recovery at each braking will limit the emissions of particles coming from the braking system. The criticality will move to the life cycle assessment of the batteries or the fuel cell system.

 6. Beyond Autonomous cars, are you looking at cockpits for things like Urban Air Mobility? What additional HMI features are you looking at for other future applications?

We currently concentrate on land mobility for the time being. The know-how and the approach we are integrating for the vehicle cockpit can also be used for other types of mobility. Time will tell…

Join us to learn more, by clicking here to register. The online conference is being held on Wednesday 25 March at 14:00 GMT

If you have particular questions that you would like discussed by the speakers at the conference, please send them to Philippa Morrell, Industry Relations Manager at FISITA by Tuesday 24 March.