Focused on Driving

Today's vehicles are filled with electronic gimcrackery that is entertaining, informative and just plain cool. The downside is all this stuff can distract the driver from the task at hand -- namely piloting her or his vehicle to its destination safely. The critical issue of driver inattention has a great deal of ramifications for companies that build and integrate electronic systems into automobiles. And now one of them, Delphi Corporation, has taken the step of creating a concept vehicle to demonstrate how all these New Age electronic systems can work in a vehicle that helps keeps drivers focused on driving. 

The Delphi Information, Convenience, Protection (ICP) demonstration vehicle was ergonomically and technologically engineered to help address the problem of driver inattention. With its unique design that concentrates the controls and interfaces in a limited area, drivers can perform the necessary tasks while keeping their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.

"We are helping to integrate the driver with the vehicle system using human machine interface (HMI) in the ICP vehicle," said Jugal Vijayvargiya, Delphi Electronics & Safety Controls & Security lead executive. "The system effectively connects the driver to the vehicle cockpit and control functions and minimizes driver distraction. In addition to enhancing safety, the HMI element of a vehicle is very important in overall consumer satisfaction and acceptance of their cars and trucks."
 
Delphi's ICP vehicle places controls that require driver attention all within a 20-degree forward field of view, which, research shows, can reduce the number of accidents due to distraction. In the concept car Delphi's HMI and Controls & Security engineering teams integrated the functionality of a sophisticated reconfigurable instrument cluster, reconfigurable head-up display (HUD), warning systems, multifunctional controls, driver-state assessment system and interior, rear and side-view cameras. The vehicle demonstrates how these systems work in unison to provide a vision for the future.

"In keeping pace with today's lifestyles and consumer demands, vehicle manufacturers have proliferated modern vehicles with electronics information and communications technology," said Robert Schumacher, general director of Advanced Product & Business Development. "Now that we have this high-content environment, it is important to simplify the interface to make it easy for the driver to manage."

The ICP vehicle offers an intuitive, integrated interface that provides easy access to information. In addition, the system helps to optimize safety and security while offering an aesthetic look that is in harmony with the vehicle interior. Technologies on the ICP vehicle's instrument panel include: a 12.3-inch color AMLCD (active matrix liquid crystal display) instrument panel that provides programmable information in front of the driver, in conjunction with a reconfigurable head up display (HUD.) The full-color HUD display with LED backlighting enhances safety by allowing the driver to view critical information projected on the windshield without requiring a glance away from the road.

Other highlights of the design are the Exogenous Safety Warning System that emits a bright flash of light to bring the driver's attention to the forward view when the potential for a collision is detected by a radar-based active safety system. In addition, the Driver State Assessment is a system that is used in conjunction with the active safety systems to warn the driver of impending danger intelligently by evaluating attention to the driving task and warning appropriately when attention begins to wane. This system also provides fatigue recognition and has a security application.

The car's Driver Face Recognition function enables vehicle access and allows vehicle content to be personalized based on recognition of a specific driver. Meanwhile, an interior camera system allows the driver to monitor rear-seat occupants, particularly children, without turning around.

The Bi-Directional Key Fob Link is the smartest key fob you'll ever see. It provides a gateway for two-way vehicle communication and offers new information, convenience and protection features to owners allowing communication with the vehicle using portable devices (such as a cell phone) to perform tasks such as closing windows and checking to see if the doors are locked and the vehicle is in the proper location.

Many of the systems and technologies found on the ICP vehicle are likely to find their way to cars we can drive in the next few years, although we're not so sure we're ready for a key fob that is smarter than we are.

Based in Cleveland, Driving Today Contributing Editor Luigi Fraschini writes frequently about auto safety issues including driver distraction.