Cars have long since ceased to be just simple means of transportation for the masses. Requirements for a modern cockpit have changed enormously over the past decade. There is an ever-growing variety of information now available to the driver to keep him or her better informed of what is happening not just with the vehicle but also the surroundings.
Hyundai Motor, like other carmakers, has given much attention to this increase in information and the cockpits in many of its models have undergone a major development process, with the technology continuing to evolve.
Major stages of cockpit development
Since 2015, there have been 4 significant project phases in the development of cockpits at Hyundai. An evaluation of Hyundai’s steering wheels and cockpits, as well as those of competitor cars, showed a broad variety and a substantial number of buttons. It became Hyundai’s target to reduce this number and to create a clean interface. The interior designers brand therefore opted to replace the rocker switches with two touch panels to make its steering wheels more intuitive.
In a project phase in 2016, Hyundai went a step further by replacing all hard keys with touchpads. This new development led to increased clarity and flexibility. The 2017 development phase even brought flexibility to a new level by making the cockpit easily customisable for users. Hyundai then replaced the touchpads of the 2016 model with two displays.
In 2018, Hyundai focused on improving the existing concept of touch displays with haptic feedback on the steering wheel. Hyundai consequently used the steering wheel of the i30 model. This demonstrated that innovations are not limited to higher-segment vehicles and Hyundai intends to prove that innovations will spread to the broader customer base.”
The steering wheel is equipped with two displays which have been increased in size and ergonomically adjusted. In order to respond ideally to the needs of each driver, the buttons can be adapted to the individual wishes of the operator. The displays come with a new, freely configurable icon design for easier understanding and two actuator modules underneath the surface allowing for a stronger and more consistent haptic feedback which optimises the usability for the driver. Hyundai even advanced the centre display with the newly-developed haptic modules and implemented the interaction between the steering wheel, centre and multi-layer cluster display.
Virtual cockpit technology continues to develop
In the latest development stage, the instrument cluster display was changed to a multi-layer display (MLD). It allows a new, very natural way of attention control. In contrast to conventional displays, which can only display their contents on one level, the MLD consists of two displays, which are stacked behind each other at a distance of 6 mm.
The distance between the two displays allows visual 3D effects: one part of the graphic is shown on the front display and the other part on the rear display. In the area where the graphics overlap, the impression of an object in space is created. This effect is used to guide the user’s attention with less distraction. The information most relevant for the present situation, for example the speed limit, is shown in the front display to catch the driver’s eye.
Customisable cockpit settings are becoming increasingly important as they offer drivers maximum freedom and strongly improve the user experience, making it more intuitive and comfortable.
The driver distraction study
In the latest development steps, the 2018 steering wheel has been integrated into a real car. Recently, Hyundai conducted a driver distraction study with the Wurzburg Institute for Traffic Science to evaluate the usability of the latest innovations while driving. For all use cases, the results of the study clearly show that Hyundai’s new cockpit is significantly below the limits of the globally acknowledged motor vehicle safety associations.
Freely configurable steering wheel displays enhance flexibility and are easily adapted to fit several vehicle models and segments. At this point, Hyundai is still in the early prototype phase of the new virtual cockpit. However, this is an important milestone and the virtual cockpit offers a platform for exciting new features as the technology continues to evolve.