Most people regard driving a car as more than merely getting from A to B. They want to have a positive experience of the journey. Studies show that a mixture of sportiness and convenience goes down especially well. Intelligently connected vehicles and intuitive operation take burdens off the driver, and a new driving experience conquers the world.

The vehicle as personal assistant

Driving is already an experience. A constant stream of innovations has made it more agreeable and comfortable than ever. Suspension, low noise levels, comfortable seats that support one’s back, air-conditioning, functionality and easy operation are all classical factors influencing customer comfort and convenience inside the vehicle. Numerous standard assistance systems have greatly extended this concept. Safety features such as anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, and aids such as the cruise control, parking assistant, automatic light control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and tire pressure monitoring are almost taken for granted nowadays. And the list of Advanced driver assistance systemsAdvanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are additional electronic systems in motor vehicles supporting the driver in certain driving situations. They often focus on safety aspects or on increased driving convenience. than can be installed in the car grows with every passing year.

Intelligent connectivity ultimately turns the car into a comprehensive service provider that knows the driver’s needs and provides assistance. This saves time and makes life easier for the driver.

Fully automatic valet parking has been possible since 2007 thanks to a development from Valeo and Volkswagen. Vehicles are now able, if the driver wishes, to take responsibility for starting and stopping in congested traffic, thus relieving the driver of this monotonous task. The congestion assistant from Continental also recognizes more difficult indications of lanes such as crash barriers and yellow lane markings, and detects other road users who may be pulling out, cutting in or driving alongside. This is made possible by combining radar and camera technologies. And from here to the completely automated vehicle is not a huge technological step: just recently Google has been permitted to conduct practical tests with a driverless car on the roads in Nevada. So the first ever automated vehicle has been approved for road traffic. In collaboration with researchers from the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Volkswagen has also developed the Temporary Auto Pilot, an assistance system for Automated drivingAutomated driving describes the autonomous operation of a computer-controlled vehicle in road traffic. An autonomous vehicle is one that navigates independently (that is, without support from human beings). Such vehicles use various sensors to gather information about their surroundings, from which they can determine their position, navigate towards a destination, and avoid collisions on the way. . The vehicle can steer itself at speeds of up to 130 km/h. However, it will be a long time before vehicles like these are allowed in Europe as very high legal hurdles will have to be overcome first.

Quite apart from the potential option of a vehicle that drives itself, many other services are already available to make driving more convenient. Various apps such as ParkatmyHouse, developed in cooperation with BMW i, support drivers when it comes to the time-consuming and tedious search for a parking spot in the city. Connectivity enables garages to diagnose and eliminate problems remotely. Stolen vehicles can be located automatically, and users are informed via their SmartphoneA smartphone is a cell phone allowing more computer features and connectivity. Additional programs (called “apps”) are available for most of today’s smartphones enabling users to install individual new functions of their choice. of the battery status of their electric car or the oil and fuel levels of their conventional car before they even climb into the vehicle. People who travel on business can access their schedules, dictate e-mails using voice recognition, or have messages read out to them. Sensors, cameras, LTELTE (Long Term Evolution) is a new mobile telephony standard that will further accelerate the expansion of mobile Internet use in particular. LTE allows data transfer rates of between 100 and 300 Mbps, and can be used to rapidly download HD movies to a car, for example – even while the vehicle is in motion. , Bluetooth, WLANA wireless local area network (WLAN) denotes a local radio network, usually one that operates to a specification from the IEEE-802.11 family. In some countries the term Wi-Fi is commonly used for this narrower meaning, although it is frequently regarded as synonymous. and GPS enable vehicles to put together a comprehensive picture of their surroundings and in the future to supply 3-D information to the driver.

New control concepts are changing the driving experience

The vast range of new functions brings in its wake fundamental changes to the display and the controls within the vehicle. Driver assistance systems, information and services have to be organized in a way that does not distract the driver or jeopardize general safety. At the same time, it should be possible to operate the vehicle intuitively and conveniently without needing to understand the technology, and the vehicle should be able to sort incoming information by its relevance to the current situation.

Research and development teams began tackling this challenge a long time ago. Innovative human-machine interfaces are ringing in a new era in car operation. The exciting development results are fed by findings from information technology and psychology, from cognitive science, ergonomics, sociology and design. The Dual View display from Bosch, which has been in use since 2009, creates separate images for the driver and the front passenger simultaneously. While only navigation, radio and telephony, for example, are available to the driver for safety reasons, the front passenger can watch a movie.

The layer technology automatically suppresses infotainment applications and apps as soon as traffic-relevant information is received. 3-D projections of traffic signs on interactive head-up displays with augmented reality elements on the front windshield should make it easier for drivers to absorb the information without diverting their gaze from the road. Drivers can also choose between customized individual driving profiles: maximum convenience with extensive driver support, or a sporty car with a dynamic, fun feel – and the control units and displays will be adjusted.

Innovations in the human-machine interface know no bounds. The elements are controlled by voice commands, by gestures as demonstrated by Daimler, by touch or by eye tracking technology like that developed at Continental. The fact is that connectivity is changing the driving experience at a fundamental level and will make it more user-friendly and more convenient.