A car's human-machine interface used to be all about giving the driver basic information. The rapid move toward autonomous driving, however, is changing the rules. HMI systems will need to swiftly and seamlessly handle the volumes of information generated by self-driving cars to build up trust with the driver. That is one of the challenges faced by Continental systems and technologies boss Karsten Michels. He shared his views on the fast-changing relationship between man and the machine with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Olive Keogh.
What makes a good HMI?
There are a lot of aspects to take into consideration and that number is increasing. In the past, a good HMI was about avoiding driver distraction. It was also about beauty – the system had to look good. Now, with the arrival of autonomous driving, it must deal with many new aspects because sometimes the driver may be out of the loop. How do we handle things if he comes back into the loop and how can he be sure he can trust the car? It is a huge area to tackle.
How will you use the HMI to reassure the driver that he can trust the car?
Let's take the example of an obstacle in the pathway of the car. The driver needs to know immediately that the car has seen it. This is where we can use augmented reality, especially when it comes to the head-up display, to put a frame around the obstacle so the driver knows the situation is safe.
What about a situation where the driver wants to turn across oncoming traffic?
The question here is whether the car can cross without danger in front or behind these cars. The driver needs to know which decision the car will make and he needs to know it before the car moves. You can show this on the head-up, but you can also make a short sound. Which one is chosen will depend on what the driver is doing at the time.