What is a premium experience
like in a self-driving car? Audi is researching this in collaboration with the
Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. In the futuristic driving
simulator, the experts on human-machine interaction investigated, for example,
how the car interior can become a perfect workplace. The findings help the car
maker to provide every user with a personally optimised automobile interior in
the future. This research cooperation is part of the Audi project “25th Hour.”
“When cars no longer have a
steering wheel, premium mobility can be newly defined. In future, people
traveling from A to B will be able to surf the Internet at leisure, play with
their children – or do concentrated work,” says Melanie Goldmann, head of
Culture and Trends Communication at Audi. “Together with the experts from the
Fraunhofer Institute, we want to find out what is important for making optimal
use of time in a self-driving car,” she said.
For the laboratory experiment
at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Audi has specially built a driving
simulator that reproduces the situation of automated driving: with a variable
interior and without a steering wheel. Large-scale projections convey the
impression of a city drive by night. Via displays, the researchers can
introduce digital distractions, the windows can be dimmed, and the colour of
the lighting and noise background change.
The focus was on young test
persons, so-called millennials, who were born after 1980 and are regarded as
receptive to self-driving cars. In the experiment, the 30 test persons carried
out various tasks requiring concentration – comparable with a work situation in
a self-driving car.
As they did this, their brain
activity was measured (EEG), as well as reaction times and error quotas, and
subjective impressions were noted. The results of the EEG were unambiguous: in
an environment without disturbances, the human brain is more relaxed. The windows
were dimmed, the light settings optimized, and digital messages were
suppressed. Tasks were then solved better and more quickly. The test persons
also stated that they were less distracted.
By contrast, a driving
situation that was “close to reality” in the robot car made greater demands on
the brain: in this case, the participants saw some advertising, received
information from social networks, and did not benefit from pleasant lighting
settings or dimmed windows.
“The results show that the
task is to find the right balance. In a digital future, there are no limits to
what can be imagined. We could offer everything in the car – really overwhelm
the user with information,” says Goldmann, adding that “But we want to put
people at the centre of attention. The car should become a smart membrane. The
right information should reach the user at the right time.”
Today drivers spend an average of about 50
minutes per day at the wheel. In the 25th Hour project, Audi is investigating
how this time could be used better in a self-driving automobile. The project is
based on the assumption that an intelligent human-machine interface will learn
the user’s individual preferences and adapt flexibly. In this way, Audi
customers will gain full control of their time – they will be masterful time
Source: Audi AG
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