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Exclusive insight: tried out Hyundai's high-tech cockpit

Hyundai future cockpit (HMI)
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V eitshöchheim, the small town near Würzburg, is mainly known to carnival and Fasenacht fans. And in fact, a disguised Hyundai awaits us in the Franconian carnival stronghold in an industrial park. From the outside, the i30 is wrapped in inconspicuous white. But the compact one has it all. Instead of the familiar steering wheel with buttons and rockers, two huge touch fields dominate the valance. Behind it, the eye falls on a digital instrument cluster that displays its information in 3D. The well-known free-standing infotainment screen had to give way to a pure touch screen.

Hyundai
Additional functions in the vehicle require scalable and updatable operating concepts.

Ever more complex requirements

But what's the point? Actually, we haven't had much to complain about in the operation of current Hyundai models. On the contrary: the clearly designed mix of touch and key infotainment was quite simple and intuitive to use. However, some vehicle functions are rather clear compared to the competition. Voice control is only available with a linked smartphone, for example. In addition, the number of steering wheel buttons has increased steadily in recent years: In the Hyundai i40, for example, the lower steering wheel spoke had to be used for additional functions. Over time, countless steering wheel variants were created - which resulted in high costs.

Hyundai
The Regina development team Kaiser has already tested the system with the Würzburg Institute for Transport Sciences.

Because more and more features are pushing into the car with the Koreans, new ones have to be added creates future-proof operating solutions that not only save costs and can be updated, but also distract as little as possible from the traffic situation for complex tasks. That is why Hyundai has been researching new control elements in its own development center in Rüsselsheim since 2015. First, the HMI development team around Regina Kaiser tried on control pad-like touchpads that were combined with the classic steering wheel buttons. Together with the WIVW (Würzburg Institute for Transport Sciences) in Veitshöchheim, the system was tested on test subjects - with a very positive response to intuitive handling.

Long development process

In the next step, all buttons on were omitted Steering wheel, the control crosses gave way to larger touch fields without symbols. A suboptimal solution, as the practical test at the WIVW showed, because the very reduced layout was not intuitive to use. “But touch fields on the steering wheel were a very promising approach, as they can be assigned several functions and options,” says Regina Kaiser. Touch displays, which also gave haptic and acoustic “click” feedback, now slid in place of the pads. An innovation that apparently went down well with the test subjects. Because the i30 test vehicle now has two touch displays that are twice as large.

Each display can be divided into four fields, which change color when you swipe your thumb. Only with increased finger pressure do the fields trigger. The highlight: The whole thing can be configured as you like - from A for assistance system to Z for entering a destination. This means that frequently used functions are always within thumb reach and, above all, can be operated blindly. An incoming call can be easily accepted or rejected as the displays automatically show the function. However, the prototype steering wheel itself is not that good in the hands.

Hyundai
The layout of the 3D instrument cluster can be configured in many ways. Important information always remains in the foreground.

No more buttons thanks to touchscreen infotainment

More than just a gimmick the 3D cockpit behind the steering wheel. The two-layer display reacts quickly, has a very high resolution and always creates the same three-dimensional impression even from different angles. The eye can see immediately which function is being clicked on via the touch display. Unimportant information, such as the fuel gauge, slide permanently into the background, while the speedometer is always present. Of course, the layout can be changed here as you wish.

For the infotainment display on the dashboard, Hyundai will in future be using a purely free-standing touchscreen instead of the combined operation of a touch display and real buttons and rotary knobs. Like the steering wheel displays, the large screen also reacts to touch with gentle vibrations. The first impression: The menu is structured logically and is also clearly structured. Thanks to the small protruding finger rest on the lower edge, touching and swiping is accurate and wobbly. In the future, the screen is to be oriented more towards the driver. Nice gimmick: With a rotating colored ball, all displays can be colored as desired.

Field test under real conditions

Does it still sound a little getting used to? But it is not. Because this cockpit variant has already been tested on test subjects in Würzburg. The 13 men and women had to drive a predetermined route with the i30 and cope with different tasks: From supposedly simple things like changing the music volume and changing tracks to more complex tasks like changing the navigation route or reading aloud SMS function. The distraction was recorded by the HMI system using glasses that record eye movements (eye tracking).

Hyundai During the practical test, all test subjects wore glasses that were used to measure the degree of distraction during various test tasks.

The preliminary results show that the display steering wheel hardly disturbs the driver subjectively. However, the more complex the task, the greater the operating time and the longer you are not looking at the road. With an average distraction time of 0.8 seconds and 50 km /h, 11 meters are covered in blind flight. This seems justifiable at city speed and is also below the official requirements of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But there is no comparison statement about how big the distraction is caused by conventional buttons or voice control systems.

The question remains, when will the system come into production? In addition, Hyundai is typically Asian covered. Presumably the system will be introduced gradually. First, the infotainment will probably be renewed. But there is a real chance that the whole system will be seen in a Hyundai by 2025.

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