Autonomous driving is the future. The ultimate goal of technology development for autonomous vehicles is to develop a fully autonomous or self-driving vehicle. The main motivation is to minimize human error, and to allow the user to do other activities. As stated in the given design brief, given by Volvo, Volvo is developing a partly autonomous car. This means that on roads where people drive less than 70 km per hour the user has to take over control of the car again. However, user test done by Volvo have shown, that when the user drives autonomous for a certain amount of time, they cannot safely take over control in an instant if needed. Therefore a system is needed that guides the user in this taking over process and makes them aware of conditions in and outside the car. This is where Carsense comes in. This product is a car chair activator , in the form of multiple inflatable cushions, in order to make the user alert, combined with an augmented reality environment on the windscreen to make the user context aware after driving autonomous. The augmented reality shows information the user needs to safely and comfortable take over control of the car.
In this project user insights were gained throughout the design process. Existing literature and researches were used to support the design process. Multiple small scale user tests were done and prototype constructions were built to visualize and test different options. The user’s opinions were the main focusing point during this study. According to the executed user tests, the most effective place for a stimulant to alert the user after driving autonomous, is in the back of the car chair in the middle to top area. Furthermore, the user values augmented reality with information such as: speed limit, current speed, directions, whereabouts, additional traffic rules that apply.
Carsense consists of two parts, a car chair and an augmented reality environment on the front windscreen of the car. The car chair acts as an activator; it will alert the user when it is almost time to take over control of the car. Which will be at least two or more seconds before the actual take over point. This can change according to speed and weather conditions on the road. The car chair has inflatable cushions positioned in the back of the chair. These cushions, which are located between the shoulder blades of the user, will rapidly inflate when it is almost time to take over control of the car after driving autonomous level 4. Through meticulous user testing, we concluded that a push in the upper back region provides the best results. The rapid inflation will result in an immediate reaction of the driver. The driver responds to the sudden change of the seat’s form by changing his/her posture.
After alerting the user there will be a short amount of time for the user to become context aware. This is where the second part of the system comes in to play. More information about the situation will appear in the augmented reality environment on a heads-up display (HUD), with the windscreen being the surface it is projected on Carsense provides the user with necessary information the user needs to safely take over the control of the car after driving autonomous level 4 with augmented reality.