Self driving cars have come a long way into development and it looks like soon (not that soon) you’ll be travelling in one. But this will spring a question in your mind about how the inside of the car will look like. Surely it cannot be the same as today. With a breakthrough of this magnitude, a change is expected. Let me mention at the onset that all this comes straight from Mercedes-Benz and their philosophy on the changes about to come to the automobile interior when autonomous cars become an everyday reality.
Portrayed to make driving comfortable and accident-free, it becomes very uneasy for anybody to be sitting in a metal box travelling at 70kmph without actually driving the thing. Even today, not-so-complex calculations are cross-checked by a human to make sure there are no errors, then how can you let a computer drive you around with you in the back sipping Champaign. Clearly some assurances and pacifiers are needed in the cabin to relax occupants.
Mercedes thinks the cabin must become a luxury lounge. As depicted in this S 500 Intelligent Drive, the designing has been done by an amalgam of engineers, designers and futurologists.
The first attention a cabin grabs is the seating, which gets all the more important if the driver is not actually driving. The four seats are arranged as rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration that allows the front passengers to turn around and talk directly to the other passengers.
The attention of all the occupants goes towards the discussion while on the move or it may be shifted towards the front as needed for manual driving. Also an extendable steering wheel offers the driver the appropriate options to this end.
Innovative interaction with the outside world
Sitting inside a car, it becomes important to be aware of the surroundings on the move. This means continuous exchange of information and data between the car, occupants and the outside world. The cabin becomes a "digital living space" as a connected part of the intelligent vehicle system. A collection of sensors working for the gesture control system alongside other touch screen displays provide an efficient human machine interaction between the car and passengers.
The system automatically recognises the wishes of individual occupants for information or the selection of control functions by sensor detection of eye, hand and finger movements. The car's surroundings, be it pedestrians, other road users or the local buildings, are also brought into the interior and portrayed as fluid all-round information on displays. Embedded in a totally new sense of space inside the vehicle, Mercedes-Benz's user experience strategy aims to systematically combine intuitive use with the design philosophy.
The future of automobile travelling is autonomous vehicles, and many manufacturers are somewhat on the lines of making it a success. Although successful and proven development will take time, and even more when it comes to developing nations like India and China, but the enthusiasm and commitment by manufacturers shows that it will become a reality. The careful and meticulous enhancement of computers, GPS and also human-machine interaction will pave a smoother, and safer, road for the future of mobility.
Image Courtesy: Mercedes-Benz