Continental in Auburn Hills Develops Control Element for Automated Driving


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Continental's Smart Control technology helps drivers navigate automated and manual driving modes.

Photo Courtesy: Continental

As autonomous and connected vehicles move closer to commercialization, Auburn Hills-based global automotive supplier Continental today announced The Smart Control, an input device that is transparently and intuitively designed to aid the driver’s transition from operator to user of automated driving functions.

The device also informs vehicle occupants when automated or manual driving is possible and can be used to control driving maneuvers.

"The success of automated vehicles will depend on the users' acceptance and trust of the technology,” says Jennifer Wahnschaff, head of instrumentation and driver HMI at Continental North America. “We intend to achieve this with a holistic human-machine interface that transparently informs users with intuitive interaction concepts and enables them to control driving maneuvers. With Smart Control, we have developed a new element for the interaction between user and vehicle.”

To ensure the safe division of tasks between driver and vehicle highly and fully automated driving phases, the new input device from Continental performs several key tasks. Located in the vehicle’s center console, Smart Control continuously informs vehicle occupants of the current driving mode using kinematic function.

During manual driving phases, Smart Control retracts in to the center console so the driver can use it as a touchpad, and rises once the vehicle is on a section of road fit for automated driving mode. Continental’s new development also helps keep the driver’s attention at an optimal level, especially when the car is in automated driving mode. Combined with other cockpit elements like the digital instrument cluster, Smart Control informs vehicle occupants about driving modes by lighting up in specific colors. 

The central input element for automated driving is currently being tested in Continental’s Cruising Chauffeur development vehicles and the driving simulator to further elevate the concept of cooperative automation and optimize the device’s technical features according to user acceptance.

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