Automotive

Audi examines how we'll spend our time in self-driving cars

Audi examines how we'll spend ...
Audi and Fraunhofer have teamed up to look into the way people will use self-driving interiors 
Audi and Fraunhofer have teamed up to look into the way people will use self-driving interiors 
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Audi is putting millennials through a series of focus tests in its cabin 
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Audi is putting millennials through a series of focus tests in its cabin 
Big projections mimic the sensation of driving through a big city
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Big projections mimic the sensation of driving through a big city
Audi has turned to Fraunhofer for its simulator
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Audi has turned to Fraunhofer for its simulator
Participants in the Audi study are hooked up to an EEG 
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Participants in the Audi study are hooked up to an EEG 
Dimmed windows and blocked notifications made for a relaxing experience in the Audi simulator
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Dimmed windows and blocked notifications made for a relaxing experience in the Audi simulator
Audi asked participants in its study to complete a range of focus tasks 
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Audi asked participants in its study to complete a range of focus tasks 
Audi and Fraunhofer are diving into the minds of millennials in their latest study on autonomous interiors 
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Audi and Fraunhofer are diving into the minds of millennials in their latest study on autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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A look into the findings from Audi and Fraunhofer's study into autonomous interiors 
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The Audi 25th Hour project suggests there are three different ways people are likely to use the interior of their autonomous cars
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The Audi 25th Hour project suggests there are three different ways people are likely to use the interior of their autonomous cars
Audi and Fraunhofer have teamed up to look into the way people will use self-driving interiors 
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Audi and Fraunhofer have teamed up to look into the way people will use self-driving interiors 
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Self-driving technology promises to dramatically change the way we interact with our cars, and in ways we're not entirely sure of yet. Audi has teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering to explore how people will spend their time in autonomous cars, and how manufacturers can best tailor their cabins for work, rest or play.

According to Audi, the average driver spends around 50 minutes sitting in their cars on a daily basis. Self-driving cars open up more options, and the 25th Hour project is all about working out how to facilitate the best possible use of that time in an autonomous vehicle using an "intelligent human-machine interface."

The project started off by analyzing how people use the infotainment systems in their cars today, and trying to predict what passengers might want to do in future. Having consulted with experts in fields like psychology and anthropology, the team defined three "time modes" it thinks will be required in a self-driving car: quality time, productive time and time for regeneration.

From there, Audi turned to the Fraunhofer Institute to find out how a self-driving cabin might look for each of these modes using a specially-developed driving simulator. The simulator has an adaptive (steering wheel-free) cabin, complete with dimming windows, changeable ambient lighting and the ability to simulate background noise. Massive projections are used to make it feel like the car is driving through a city at night.

Audi has turned to Fraunhofer for its simulator
Audi has turned to Fraunhofer for its simulator

A group of 30 millennials were hooked up to an EEG for brain monitoring and asked to perform a range of tasks that require concentration. After the tests, brain activity, errors and subjective impressions were also taken into consideration.

Unsurprisingly, test subjects were most relaxed in a disturbance-free environment, with dimmed windows, gentle lighting and a minimum of interruption from the car's on-board infotainment. Also unsurprisingly, brain activity shot up when the test participants were bombarded with advertisements and notifications from their phones.

"The results show that the task is to find the right balance," says Melanie Goldmann, head of Culture and Trends Communication at Audi. "In a digital future, there are no limits to what can be imagined. We could offer everything in the car – really overwhelm the user with information. But we want to put people at the center of attention. The car should become a smart membrane. The right information should reach the user at the right time."

Although the findings seem obvious, finding the right balance between providing information and minimizing distraction is already playing out in our cars. BMW has been particularly active in creating concepts designed to deliver huge amounts of information clearly, while Mercedes has its own very distinct ideas about what the self-driving cabin of the future will look like.

Source: Audi

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2 comments
Grumpyrelic
In the 1970s work weeks were getting shorter and leisure time was increasing. The University of Ottawa started a Department of Recreaology to research this phenomenon of Leisure Time. 15 years later, house prices had increased tenfold, interest rates went to 18%, food prices rocketed up and salaries had only doubled. So people worked 2 and 3 jobs to get by. After 25 years, the Department of Recreaology was finally closed. Now, we are at the point where we will be so bored in our self-driving cars that this "phenomenon" has to be studied? With UN agenda 21 packing everyone into ghettos, cities forcing mass transportation upon us, nobody will afford these high tek wonders. We will be too busy in our work-from-home sweat shops in the basement to worry about the autonomous cars driving around empty. Yes, it is nice to dream about the future but we should be trying to fix the "now"
KirkAugustin
Self driving cars are NEVER going to happen. Not only are computers far too slow at vision recognition compared to the massively parallel human brain, but computers are far too fragile and unreliable. And even more important is that people really like to drive, as it gives then their only sense of freedom, mobility, and power left. Self driving cars would be almost as bad as being trapped in an elevator. No one is going to want or like it, especially since the rate of accidents only would increase, but injuries would be far greater because passengers are less prepared for them compared to drivers.