With instant information projected directly onto the windshield in a new prototype simulator, Scania’s developers look at how the future driver environment should look like.
Pling! Convoy of trucks in two kilometres – do you want to connect?
Implemented into Scania’s new driving simulator, a prototype for the future driver environment offers valuable test data for Scania’s developers on how drivers react to different signals and stimuli. The idea is to carefully investigate the driver’s needs for relevant information from future autonomous systems of self-driving trucks.
“The goal of the project was to design the best possible concept cab from a driver perspective for a highly autonomous truck. To do this, we needed an innovative design method, as well as novel testing measures”, says Stas Krupenia, senior cognitive engineer at Scania.
Connect to a “train” of trucks
The prototype is part of MODAS, a research project including Scania, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, Luleå University of Technology, Uppsala University which was partly funded by FFI, a partnership between the Swedish government and the automotive industry focusing on strategic vehicle research and innovation.
The project has developed a concept built on a so called multimodal interface. One part is a visual display on the windshield in front of the driver. Here, the driver gets a comprehensive and easily accessible view of the truck’s position on the road, the traffic environment and surrounding vehicles. The driver can also access information about truck convoys to connect to and thus benefit from lower air drag in a “train” of trucks.
A guide to the right decisions
The other part of the multimodal interface is a set of carefully selected sounds that aims to guide the driver to prioritize and take the right decisions. Sound engineers has been involved in the project to develop exactly the right warning signals that really helps the driver instead of disturbing him or her.
“The system prompts the driver to take direct action, to brake or turn, but it also gives information on the road ahead, such as ‘heavy rain in 20 minutes’, says Johanna Vännström, vehicle ergonomist developer at Scania.
From driving to supervising
Scania’s research in autonomous vehicles focus on using today’s and future technology to increase road safety as well as to decrease fuel consumption and emissions. Future automated systems mean the driver’s role will evolve from driving to supervising.
“It is not meant to replace the driver, it is to make existing drivers even more skilled”, says Johanna Vännström. “This project doesn’t focus on technology. Instead it’s totally based on the driver and the driver’s needs. The system can deal with many of the operative driving decisions while the driver can concentrate on strategic decisions such as rerouting and delivery of the cargo.”
To influence the future
Jeffrey Joslin is one of the drivers who have been involved in testing the new systems.
“For me as a driver to take part in this project is extremely rewarding and fun. It gives me a possibility to influence the future for me and my colleagues, and the tools we will use”, he says.