Andy Pye discovers how the productivity advantage of train travel could be seriously challenged by the advent of autonomous motoring.
One of the great decisions in life is whether to travel by car or by public transport. For me, one of the arguments in favour of public transport, provided that the journey is feasible in the first place, is the ability to work on the train. Now, with autonomous cars, this advantage could be seriously challenged and even left behind in its wake.
Making its debut in the Rinspeed Oasis concept car, Harman International has announced a suite designed to make the autonomous driving experience intelligent, safe and intuitive. Distinct modes reflect consumer lifestyle and humanise the autonomous car. Harman has over 5,600 patents in key technology areas, including driver safety, vehicle security, design, navigation, connectivity, networking and HMI. More than 25 million cars on the road today are already equipped with Harman audio and connected car systems, including integrated mobile devices and systems.
On the Oasis, the Harman LIVS ((Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution) suite of technologies offers a glimpse into the future of autonomous driving and how advanced, holistic vehicle intelligence will play its part. The vision includes a series of systems that explore how the vehicle interacts with drivers and passengers during their time in the vehicle – from autonomous driving to re-engaging with drivers upon arrival at a destination.
Using the Harman platform, Oasis offers portable personalisation with the complete Microsoft Office suite and voice-controlled virtual assistant, enabling advanced in-vehicle productivity to perform work-related tasks. It also features full-windscreen HUD technology and high-resolution 3D maps, offering a future look at the user interface and how drivers and passengers can interact with their cars.
Oasis is also highly connected, with IoT-style integration that offers home-to-car transfers of preferences and a suite of connected services such as car sharing, social media integration, weather, parking and reservations, all supported by the Harman automotive cloud platform. A state-of-the-art camera-based Advanced Driver Assistance Systems monitors, records and assesses the surroundings of the vehicle to enhance safety features.
Key technical features
* Full Windshield Heads-Up Display: Oasis utilises the full windshield to project navigation prompts and other information to the driver, while also simultaneously projecting entertainment or information to the passenger.
* Autonomous Drive Readiness Check – Handover to Manual: One of the most critical concerns of autonomous vehicles is how to ensure the transition between mode and manual mode is handled seamlessly. It combines haptic feedback, eye gaze tracking, and the driver’s cognitive load readiness through pupil monitoring, to ensure that that the driver is truly engaged and able to safely take control of the steering wheel.
* Augmented Reality Concierge: This addresses the need to support increased productivity in the car while minimising distraction. A voice-controlled virtual assistant functions as a concierge, automatically suggesting and displaying personalised points of interest while enabling advanced in-vehicle productivity. Through Skype connectivity, the system could even translate telephone conversations in real time with colleagues speaking different languages.
* Predictive Collision Prevention: V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) technologies detect objects on a collision course and offer corrective action.
* Intelligent E-Mirrors: Mirrors that are automatically activated/dimmed based on user gaze.
“Harman believes autonomy should not equal monotony, and this vehicle offers an integrated cockpit and leading edge user interface that advances mobility and connectivity while providing an unparalleled user experience,” says Phil Eyler, president, HARMAN Connected Car. “This results in a driving experience that is more powerful, productive, personalised and protected than ever before.”