Developing HMI Systems to Integrate ADAS Functions

The reality of fully autonomous vehicles is drawing ever closer, and increasingly sophisticated driver assistance technologies are permeating the industry. Today’s ‘semi-autonomous’ cars feature a range of support functions such as lane assist and automatic braking, and the sector has become a hotbed of innovation as OEMs scramble to be the first to market with new technology. Equally, infotainment and connected services have also been subject to rapid development, with connectivity opening up a world of opportunity in the way in which cars interact with occupants, other vehicles, and infrastructure.


These changes are significant in terms of HMI development, since there is much more information to be exchanged between car and driver, and automakers are beginning to look at HMI in terms of a ‘conversation’ between the vehicle and occupants. Drivers no longer interact with the car by the simple means of pushing buttons and levers, and we have already seen the introduction of voice-recognition, gesture control and touchscreen technology. HMI systems of the future, however, have the potential to be unrecognizable from today’s systems as automation and connectivity change the way we interact with our cars.

Growing Demands on HMI Systems

The next generation of HMI systems - HMI 2.0 - will have to meet a variety of demands. Connectivity is generally considered in terms of infotainment - navigation, point-of-interest services and so on - but connection to the cloud allows access to data continually, from other devices, other vehicles and potentially from smart cities. Connectivity will also apply to the driver, whereby monitoring can collect data about the driver’s health and wellbeing. A challenge is to process and convey all of this information to the driver at relevant times and in a manner which is unobtrusive.

As driver assistance technology develops and is implemented into vehicles, the HMI system of the future will need to find ways for driver and car to switch control seamlessly. An occupant should understand quickly and easily how much control and attention is required of them, and how much of the driving the car can take care of. This creates a significant crossover - if for example a crash sensor detects a potential collision, any HMI system will need to be able to alert the driver, pause communication or infotainment and ensure that the driver is aware of what action is required.

A Holistic Approach

This leads into the holistic approach that designers of HMI systems are beginning to take, and it is entirely necessary for the introduction of autonomous driving. One of the consistent discussions surrounding autonomous vehicles is that of trust. How does the industry convince consumers that the vehicle can be trusted to drive itself? Can consumers be convinced that the car will make the right judgment in given situations? We cede control every time we enter a vehicle that another person is driving, but how easily can that be applied to a machine rather than another human? Communication is therefore incredibly important, and it may be that the car will need to consistently communicate the status of automation at all times.

A further concept in a holistic approach is the idea of the car learning about the driver and his or her habits, to create a personalized experience. The position of seat and steering wheel, preferred temperature, and favorite visual and audio presets are concepts with which most are familiar. Connectivity enables the concept to move a step further - and this is particularly relevant when considering new mobility systems. 

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