Bosch re-imag­ines fu­ture of ve­hi­cle cock­pit for safer driv­ing

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Tech­nol­ogy ma­jor Bosch has show­cased its smart cock­pit tech­nol­ogy that lets drivers con­cen­trate on driv­ing, eyes can be kept where they should be – on the road. Ac­cord­ing to the study con­trol­ling the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, the on­board com­puter menu, or the ra­dio is a dis­trac­tion. The new tech­nol­ogy was un­veiled at CES 2018. “We are un­clut­ter­ing the cock­pit. The more com­plex the tech­nol­ogy in mod­ern ve­hi­cles, the sim­pler and more in­tu­itive con­trol sys­tems need to be,” St­ef­fen Berns, Pres­i­dent of Bosch Car Mul­ti­me­dia, said. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence helps trans­form the hu­man-ma­chine in­ter­face (HMI) into a com­mand cen­tre that thinks ahead.

“Ini­tial func­tion­al­i­ties with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence feed valu­able in­for­ma­tion into the HMI about the driver, the ve­hi­cle, and the sur­round­ings. That en­ables proac­tive ad­just­ment of dis­plays and con­trols to any given driv­ing sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

The com­pany is also draw­ing on this in­for­ma­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of au­to­mated driv­ing, where HMI acts as the core el­e­ment that al­lows op­ti­mal in­ter­play be­tween peo­ple and ve­hi­cles. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) helps trans­form HMI into a com­mand cen­tre that thinks ahead. “Ini­tial func­tion­al­i­ties with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence feed valu­able in­for­ma­tion into the HMI about the driver, the ve­hi­cle, and the sur­round­ings. That en­ables proac­tive ad­just­ment of dis­plays and con­trols to any given driv­ing sit­u­a­tion,” Berns stated.

Op­er­at­ing HMI

The tech­nol­ogy ma­jor quotes find­ings of Al­lianz Cen­ter for Tech­nol­ogy, which has men­tioned that 63% of drivers in Ger­many op­er­ate their nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems while driv­ing, 61% switch through ra­dio sta­tions, and 43% browse through com­pli­cated menus on their on-board com­put­ers. Wherein, it states that dis­trac­tions like th­ese are among the most fre­quent causes of ac­ci­dents.

“Our job is to make HMI a re­li­able com­pan­ion in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion,” Berns re­marked. At the heart of the HMI is a voice­con­trolled as­sis­tant that re­sponds to the users’ nat­u­ral speech and can even un­der­stand di­alects. Thanks to its nat­u­ral lan­guage un­der­stand­ing (NLU), drivers can talk to the as­sis­tant Casey as they would with a co-pas­sen­ger. Another virtue of Casey is her abil­ity to think ahead, draw­ing on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, she can learn to pre­dict likely des­ti­na­tions de­pend­ing on the time of the day; or if she is asked to switch on the ra­dio, she knows the driver’s pref­er­ences, such as lis­ten­ing to the news in the morn­ings and mu­sic in the evenings.

Dig­i­tal dis­plays

Hu­mans per­ceive 90% of our sen­sory in­put through our eye­sight, which means that, as drivers, we have to have im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion di­rectly in our field of vi­sion at the right time. The dig­i­tal dis­plays are tak­ing over the cock­pit, this means more than sim­ply keep­ing an eye on speed, rpm, and driv­ing range.

Bosch’s smart al­go­rithm is ca­pa­ble of learn­ing fil­ter and pri­ori­tis­ing con­tent – if the roads are slip­pery, drivers im­me­di­ately get a warn­ing sig­nal di­rectly in their field of vi­sion, while less im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion, such as the cur­rent ra­dio sta­tion, is switched to another dis­play, help­ing the driver con­cen­trate on the road.

The com­pany says when it comes to op­er­at­ing in­fo­tain­ment, air con­di­tion­ing, and ra­dio, touch­screens and cen­tral con­trollers have a de­ci­sive draw­back: the driver has to look to en­ter com­mands ac­cu­rately. At a speed of 50kph, the car will travel 30 me­ters while the driver’s eyes are taken off the road for two sec­onds; at 120kph on the free­way, the dis­tance in­creases to more than 60 me­ters – driv­ing blind.

“Car dis­plays with hap­tic feed­back are go­ing to catch on. They al­low eas­ier op­er­a­tion of all man­ner of func­tion­al­i­ties – for ex­am­ple ra­dio and phone func­tions – faster, sim­pler, and, most im­por­tantly, safer,” Berns added. The keys dis­played on the touch­screen feel just like real but­tons, the hap­tic dis­play thus con­veys the feel­ing that the user is ad­just­ing the vol­ume us­ing a real slide con­trol. As a re­sult, drivers can keep their eyes on the road for longer.

Cock­pit com­puter

One con­se­quence of the ad­vanced cock­pit tech­nol­ogy is the in­creased de­mands on pro­cess­ing power, wiring, and the ar­chi­tec­ture of on-board net­works. In cur­rent pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles, 5, 10, or as many as 15 elec­tronic con­trol units run dis­plays and elec­tronic de­vices.

There is a need for more pro­cess­ing power to show co­or­di­nated in­for­ma­tion on all dis­plays. In the fu­ture, Bosch says it will run the en­tire HMI through a cock­pit com­puter and will in­te­grate more func­tion­al­i­ties in a sin­gle cen­tral pro­ces­sor. That will en­able the con­ver­gence and syn­chro­ni­sa­tion of the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, the in­stru­ment clus­ter, and other dis­plays so that any given in­for­ma­tion can be or­ches­trated, man­aged, and dis­played any­where in the ve­hi­cle at any given time.

“It gives car drivers and pas­sen­gers vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties for ad­just­ing the air con­di­tion­ing, con­trol­ling the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, or chang­ing ra­dio sta­tions, from any­where in the ve­hi­cle,” Berns said.

In ad­di­tion, re­duc­ing the num­ber of con­trol units also frees up valu­able in­stal­la­tion space, low­ers ve­hi­cle weight, and short­ens the time needed for the de­vel­op­ment of new ve­hi­cles. And, in the fu­ture, over-the-air up­dates will en­sure that the cock­pit com­puter and hence the en­tire HMI is kept up to date with the same sim­ple process used for smart­phones.

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