Truck designers within Scania are already putting together designs they may be using in the year 2034. The design team at the Scania Research and Design Centre is assessing just how the, much more autonomous, trucks of the future will perform and what kind of interface is required between the vehicle and the driver.
A large amount of information will be available from around trucks in 2034. Systems will be designed to sift through this information and project what the driver needs to know, and if action is necessary, onto the windscreen in the driver’s eye line. Not only will the information be coming from within the truck but from surrounding vehicles and infrastructure.
“We have made a host of assumptions with regard to future developments,” said Stas Krupenia, Cognitive Engineer at Scania’s Styling and Vehicle Ergonomics Department. “We have, for example, assumed that all vehicles communicate with each other as well as with the infrastructure. Based on similar assumptions, we’re designing systems that can handle these future opportunities and assess how they are perceived by drivers.”
The truck will know the speed of every vehicle around it, what is happening on the road ahead, whether it is safe to overtake, if there are any pedestrians on the road and how secure the load is. The important information will be on the windscreen, further detail will be available from the dash board display or a mobile tablet device in the cabin.
The method the driver uses to communicate with the truck is also being investigated. The driver may not need to touch switches but, perhaps, make hand gestures to make a change. The system could also be able to pick up eye movements or the driver’s voice as part of the truck/driver interaction.
“Gradually, as new automated systems are developed and become available, the driver’s role will evolve from driving to supervising,” said Krupenia. “Our goal is to make skilled drivers more skilled. Usually, when we design driver environments for future systems, we make the mistake of relying on the present-day interaction between driver and vehicle as the basis for development.
“That’s why we’re now simulating a future situation in order to develop a driver environment that is designed with these fundamental changes in driver-vehicle interaction in mind.”