Sitting through six hours of crystal-ball gazing from Mercedes-Benz’s ‘FutureLab’ event Diesel News’ European Correspondent is not complaining. Every day is a learning opportunity and FutureLab gave Brian plenty to think about, even if his head was spinning from trying to get it around all that information.
Clearly, electronic instruments have been around for years, albeit as digital versions of analogue originals. However, the next generation of digital dashboards are unlikely to any analogue components in them whatsoever. Moreover, following in the same foot-steps as CAD-CAM-developed components, by using increasingly-sophisticated computer graphics and animation Mercedes can rapidly pre-test a digital dash design, and accommodate changes to it, in a far-quicker time-scale than ever before.
But whatever information a future Mercedes truck dashboard shows a driver, and however different it looks to them, Benz insist drivers will always be able to rely on Daimler to ensure they have all the right information they need, whenever they need it.
Cabs That Recognise Drivers
Co-presenting a Design inside out workshop, Kai Sieber, Mercedes-Benz’s Director Design Brands and Operations emphasised the watershed-shift in the industry from ‘mechanics to intelligence’, whereby an uncomplicated user interface could take on various operating functions for a truck driver via a single, easy-to-reach touch-screen, either built-into the dash or as a removable work-pad within a dashboard docking-station.
Alternatively, says Sieber, “We [could] have a screen that only needs to be looked at it, or even a head-up display out of reach.”
For Sieber, it’s not enough just to have good design, ‘feeling’ and functionality; tomorrow’s cab interiors should have ‘emotion’ too. That could mean programming a truck to recognise who’s behind the wheel. “Personalisation also plays a vital role. We understand [that] the availability of the vehicle is decisive, only a truck that’s on-the-road is earning money, so for us it’s important that every Mercedes truck driver has a Mercedes ID and with this we can personalise the settings so no time is wasted setting-up the screen and its contents, it will be automatically uploaded with the driver’s ID.”
Summing-up, Sieber says “Basically, what we will offer is a digital assistant to our customers that takes over many tedious work functions from the driver’s work-load—that’s the additional value of what we’re offering.”
In recent research M-B confirmed that additional biologically-effective lighting can improve the alertness of drivers during dark winter months. A Mercedes-Benz research project in Finland confirmed that when artificial daylight was added to a truck’s interior lighting during dark winter months, drivers showed greater alertness.
Mirror Mirror….Inside the Cab
Following trials by its vehicle-efficiency experts, Merc reports that replacing conventional rear-view mirrors with much smaller, aerodynamically-mounted CCTV cameras can improve fuel economy by up to 2.5%, depending on terrain and running speeds. But where should the monitors go inside the cab? At FutureLab, the German truck-maker showed-off its iconic ‘Future Truck 2025’ complete with CCTV monitors mounted logically on the inside face of the A-posts.