Have you already joined the race to autonomous cars? Then you must have noticed what a powerful selling point HMI technologies can be for customers. Touch screens, head-up displays (HUDs), speech recognition technologies—aren't we already looking at the car of the future from science fiction, a true Batmobile that is both safe and attractive?
But HMI is not just attractive. It’s a crucial element of automotive software solutions. Without it, users wouldn’t be able to control their autonomous vehicles (AVs). No control means no trust. And trust between vehicle and driver is the cornerstone of AV expansion.
So how will you win from HMI control system implementation? Which HMI tools are driving the AV market right now? Let’s find out.
Autonomous vehicles are on the radar of all carmakers—both premium and mid-price. But how much money are we talking about?
In 2020, the AV industry was valued at nearly $21 billion. Within five years, it’s expected to triple. And $62 billion is only the minimum threshold. Some optimists are looking forward to much higher numbers.
What stands behind these high expectations? Like always, customers’ willingness to pay. Every second buyer agrees to spend 20% over their budget for an AV when it provides them with a higher level of autonomy. What does this mean at the current stage of AV evolution?
First of all, it’s a vehicle equipped with ADAS technologies that’s able to perform some driving tasks by itself. In this case, the human relies on the ADAS technology and passes control to the vehicle.
Second, the vehicle can detect hazards and inform the driver so that they have a chance to adapt their driving behavior. Or, it may take over control from the driver. In this case, the vehicle would adapt, correct, or stop an action that is unperformed or inadequately performed by the human driver.
HMI technologies are essential for both situations. They keep a human driver updated on the driving situation providing them only with the information that matters. This is a new way of communication between the human and the vehicle, where the vehicle takes an active position as well.
In Germany and South Korea, government authorities have implemented stringent laws about AVs. Among others, these laws cover ADAS features in vehicles.
The United States has yet to enact overarching federal legislation on the matter. However, in January 2021 the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released its Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan. It streamlines the introduction of novel ADAS-enabled vehicle designs and features, including HMI, and introduces the necessary changes to the existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
When the vehicle helps the human driver understand the situation around, keeps them safe, and gives them all other data they need (but doesn’t overload them with technical information), this is an effective HMI design. There are several crucial points in organizing this communication:
Let’s highlight the major trends and AV best practices that help build the right human-machine interface and lead to effective communication between them:
Modern vehicles already employ an array of interaction methods that were unthinkable only a few years ago. Drivers use a touch-free HMI system to interact with the vehicle, connected systems within it, and the environment around it. All this without moving their hands from the steering wheel. Here are the most trending technologies that support these recent advancements.
The sensory technology provides tactile feedback in touchscreen infotainment systems. When the given input is accepted, the driver receives confirmation without taking their eyes off the road.
This technology is still under development. The aim is to make haptics better integrated and less power-consuming. Despite the current drawbacks, haptics has already become a trending tool due to its quick reaction time and reliability.
Modern voice-operated systems allow for quite natural communication with a vehicle. They even understand accents and ask for more information if needed. This happens thanks to the integration of AI, as well as general advances in NLP and cognitive computing.
For better in-vehicle communication experience, carmakers still have to work on the following:
HUDs promise to help drivers maintain roadway focus. They display critical information (speed, warning indicators, next-turn information, and so on) within a driver’s forward field of view (FFOV).
There is still a lot of work to be done with HUDs:
As noticed by Continued Viita, “For premium models, future HMI should comprise all of the modalities mentioned for high-volume vehicles, but also include smart surfaces, smart glass, and AR HUDs as standard.”
Are you a tech company struggling to build a best-in-breed self-driving car? Or do you just want to grab an early lead in the AV market and start producing driverless vehicles at a production-level scale? In any case, to get your slice of the pie, you’d better hurry up with more advanced HMI system development and adoption.
At Softeq, we take advantage of the latest automotive UX trends and make HMI design as intuitive and effective as possible. Get in touch with our automotive sector specialists, and we'll help you with your ADAS and HMI projects.