No account? subscription
Home ›Articles› Electric vehicles open up new opportunities for HMI and vehicle interior design
Andreas Minatti of Datwyler looks at the electrification trend and the possibilities surrounding haptic feedback
By 2028, electric vehicles (EV) are expected to account for about 16% of the mobile market. Fully and plug-in hybrid vehicles will account for 24%, while internal combustion engines (ICE) and mild hybrid vehicles will account for the remaining 60%. Momentum is gathering, and many big brands are coming forward with bold investment plans for the next five to ten years. For example, Volkswagen announced at the end of 2020 that it would allocate approximately 35 billion euros (44.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the research and development and capital expenditures of battery electric vehicles, while Mercedes-Benz announced in July this year that it would invest approximately 40 billion euros.
These figures are impressive. However, the car driving public must still believe that changing electric cars is feasible. If you remove the price from the equation, people will realize things like limited range, lack of charging infrastructure, and the inability to use charging points—especially in an urban environment where many people live in apartment buildings. In addition, the convenience of traditional fuels will be replaced by waiting up to an hour for car charging.
One of the areas that will help drive the steering of electric vehicles is innovation opportunities. To a large extent, this emerging technology platform is a blank canvas. Electrification has the ability to promote progress and bring tangible benefits to the driver and occupants of the vehicle. Tactile feedback—the ability to communicate through the medium of touch—is an example of these advancements, and is an increasingly important area in vehicle design, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.
Inside the ICE and EV, the obvious trend is to create a smoother and more elegant surface that is more futuristic in appearance. For example, flat screen technology is becoming more and more popular on car dashboards, and tactile feedback in the form of vibrations or pulses can be used for multiple functions, such as sliders for volume or temperature control. Standard switches and buttons can also be replaced throughout the cabin. When the user approaches, these surfaces can be deformed into 3D buttons, and once a command is received, they will return to a flat state. This eliminates the need for any permanent raised surfaces that may be located at switches or buttons in the cabin, creating cleaner lines and a superior user experience.
To a large extent, this emerging technology platform is a blank canvas, and electrification has the power to promote progress that brings tangible benefits.
From a functional point of view, the possibilities of this technology are also very exciting. The so-called "customized feedback" can be applied to a wide range of internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles, each of which utilizes the ability to control smart materials through electronic control units. Functionality is achieved through custom elements (such as pulse shape, amplitude, and frequency) that can be used to provide feedback through components such as the steering wheel or even the driver's seat. Imagine a system connected to a navigation system that can pulse once to the left and twice to the right. Or, if the driver deviates from the lane on the highway, the system can alert by continuous vibration. Haptic feedback will make these functions a reality.
The driver experience will therefore be enriched, and as the research on the human-machine interface becomes more and more in-depth, the possibility of affecting other key functions in the vehicle becomes more and more clear. For example, electroactive polymers (EAP) can be effectively used for drive and sensing capabilities when used to create stacked actuators. As a linear actuator, it can replace traditional mechanical drives, such as coil systems or motors, while sensing changes in capacity to convert them into sensors or buttons as described above. The two can also be used together to provide greater flexibility in use.
The Stacked Actuator uses a small capacitor in a three-layer system that includes two electrodes (made of conductive material) with a soft electroactive polymer in the middle. A voltage can then be applied to the capacitor, and as the surface electrodes approach each other, the polymer is compressed to produce axial movement. Then, the technology can be integrated into various components to provide energy-saving, noise-free stepless drive without the need for gears or motors.
These advancements are the core driving force for the shift to new mobility, so suppliers in this industry must also be prepared to adapt, often requiring major changes. The requirements for new mobility solutions may be very different from ICE alternatives, and when sealing materials are involved, they are needed to implement elements such as heat or electricity. In addition, with the increase of sensing functions and electronic control components, electromagnetic shielding is essential.
Manufacturers must be able to discuss and identify pain points with their suppliers to help find the best solution. If the supplier can also promote the rapid development and industrialization of the solution, it will add a lot of value-especially for those who are new to market. Long development cycles are not easy to tolerate. This ability to bring products to the market quickly and efficiently will separate those who occupy market share from those who lose market share.
This is a transition from a build to a printing supplier to a development partner. Customers start with specifications and need to design solutions to deliver results. Design and material knowledge are key, but equally important is the ability to run tests and analyze output in accordance with the highest level of regulatory specifications. Simulation will become the core asset of this process, because the design is simplified and the number of prototypes required is significantly reduced. Although the human-machine interface will continue to advance, smart materials must continue to advance to improve functionality, comfort, and vitality. It is important to provide a safer driving experience for drivers and passengers.
As an industry undergoing an important transition period, the partnership established today will ensure the future of New Mobile. This ability to unite, innovate, and take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the electric vehicle platform will only help to further ease this shift.
About the author: Andreas Minatti is the business development director of BU Mobility at Datwyler, a supplier of system-critical elastomer components
Let us help you understand the future of mobility
We will host a two-day Future Mobile Europe conference online in 2021. Automakers and Autoworld members can get free tickets. 500+ representatives. More than 50 speakers.
We will host a two-day Future Mobility Detroit conference online in 2021. Automakers and Autoworld members can get free tickets. 500+ representatives. More than 50 speakers.
Welcome back, to continue browsing this site, please click here