Before pedestrians cross the road in front of an oncoming vehicle, they usually seek eye contact with the driver. This, however, is likely to change when fully automated vehicles are introduced because ‘drivers’ no longer have to concentrate on the road ahead, but will be free to look elsewhere, such as to check their email and therefore another form of human/vehicle communication will be required.
Within the context of the three-year, EU-funded, international interACT research project, launched in May 2017, lighting and electronics expert Hella and its project partners will research how communication between automated and non-automated road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicle drivers, might look for passenger cars in the urban environment.
When it comes to communication between humans and vehicles, lighting plays a particularly important role. “However, today’s lighting systems inside and outside the vehicle are not currently sufficient to replace eye contact, gestures or language”, says Dr. Michael Kleinkes, vice president of development lighting and innovation at Hella. “This project will therefore research and develop a system which can reliably accomplish this.”
The researchers will initially define which situations require communication and then endeavour to find the best possible way to achieve these goals, whether through projections, symbols or colours.
“Communication must after all, not only work at night, but also during the day,” explains Kleinkes. “Furthermore, it should be clear, intuitive and work internationally.”
Hella will then create a prototype and integrate the lighting modules inside a vehicle. To make this possible, the project partners will use their combined skills and experience to contribute to the overall solution.
Research and development are significant components of Hella’s DNA. The focus throughout will be on technology for the central market trends of the automotive industry, such as autonomous driving, connectivity and digitalisation, efficiency and electrification, as well as individualisation. Against this background, the development of high-resolution lighting systems is gradually gaining importance and in the future, lighting will also take on greater additional functions.