Faurecia Creates ‘Personal Bubbles’ for AVs

Future cockpit design leverages sensors, cameras and new seating concepts.

Faurecia and Aptoide’s 50/50 joint venture offers a secure automotive apps market for in-vehicle gaming, navigation, content-streaming services and more. (Faurecia)

App-led exercises that unfold while seated, and audio selections heard via the seat headrest illustrate the types of wellness and comfort options that supplier Faurecia envisions with its cockpit of the future, aimed at SAE Level 3 automated vehicle (AV) applications. “In this concept, you can activate the ‘personal bubble’ features on the seat itself, or by the vehicle’s 15-inch infotainment touchscreen,” said Peter Burke, electronics engineer with Faurecia Clarion Electronics.

A retrofitted Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck serves as a concept demonstrator to showcase Faurecia’s cockpit of the future technologies. (Faurecia)

Burke and other experts recently spoke with SAE’s Autonomous Vehicle Engineering about Faurecia’s cockpit of the future. A full-size pickup truck demonstrator cabin and various interactive displays were shown at the supplier’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The patented and patents-pending technologies showcased in the future cockpit are designed to help vehicle occupants feel good throughout the travel journey.

Take a seat, start exercising

Speakers integrated into the headrest use ear-tracking and onboard sensor technology to direct low-volume, high quality audio to passengers’ ears. (Faurecia)

Upon opening the concept demonstrator’s passenger door, the front bucket seat automatically swivels 10 degrees for easier ingress. An A-pillar-mounted camera captures the front passenger’s biometric measurements (distance between eyes and distance between shoulders), enabling algorithms to calculate the rider’s approximate size. According to Fernan Acevedo, Faurecia’s lead engineer for seating, occupants need to be “in a seating position that will provide the best experience with all of the vehicle’s different actuators and sensors.”

If the front passenger wants to unwind during the ride, the options include a deep massage (via the seat’s pneumatic system) and a soft-tissue vibrating massage (via the haptic actuators within the seat foam). The vehicle’s audio speakers, including exciters in the overhead liner, allow all passengers to hear the same sounds. But a private sound zone – what engineers call “the personal bubble” – is also available. “The personal bubble headrest is patented, and it’s production-ready,” Acevedo said.

Through a combination of advanced seat kinematics, onboard cameras and intuitive human machine interface (HMI), Faurecia creates a sense of wellness for occupants. (Faurecia)

The headrest’s two speakers work together to to create the unique audio space, and those speakers can ”shift the bubble” if you move your head. The personal bubble is also a potential conduit for quashing road noise. “A camera monitors the position of your head and using our advanced signal processor algorithm, a dynamic active noise control signal can be sent to the personal bubble,” said Sattar Niyaz, an application engineer with Faurecia Clarion Electronics. That noise cancellation technique applies to 400 Hz and below frequencies. “We are not canceling all of the frequencies, so you can still hear the siren from an ambulance, police car, or fire truck,” Niyaz said.

A non-driving occupant can ward off the blahs while using an in-vehicle exercise app. “We’re looking out for the wellness of the passenger,” Acevedo said of the head, neck, lower back and leg-motion activities developed in conjunction with Human Lab and Accenture. For example, the front passenger floor mat’s embedded sensors, located within left and right foot outlines, recognize the user’s heel and toe loads. “You define how hard you want to press down on the floor mat,” said Acevedo, pointing out that the app’s leg exercise mimics walking. App programs use camera processing information to remind the person who’s exercising to maintain good seat posture.

Watch a movie

The 15-inch, front-seat touchscreen and the rear-seat screens can provide entertainment for passengers. “We’re showing how multiple displays and operating systems can function under a single cockpit domain controller unit,” explained Ina Yoon, Faurecia Clarion Electronics’ connected solutions manager, about hypervisor technology.

“The hypervisor solution makes sure that each individual operating system is functioning separately while connected to each other,” Yoon said. If a software update is needed, the hypervisor will shut down only the one operating system and the rest of the displays will still function uninterrupted, Yoon said. The single-box solution replaces today’s system architecture that uses a dedicated server box for each display.

In an SAE Level 3 automated vehicle, the driver can take his/her eyes off the road during automated driving times. That means you can’t watch a movie while you’re driving manually. For those situations, the concept demonstrator’s front screen will swivel out of the driver’s view and into the view of the front passenger, Burke said. The front passenger seat also swivels 10 degrees to the left, providing a front-center field of view to the screen.

A bevy of comfort and on-the-road wellness choices for vehicle occupants underscores Faurecia’s cockpit of the future. “Not everyone wants to view or do the same thing, so that’s why personalization and personal bubbles are also relevant,” Burke said.