Imagine you are in one of the many self-driving Scania trucks forming a convoy on Europe’s highways in 2030. The truck ahead of you blocks your view. The convoy leader is the only one actually driving. This leaves you time to schedule your next pickup, watch movies or catch up with your family – all on the windscreen.
After looking at examples of the use of automation in airplanes and embarking on a trucker’s journey to experience life on the road first hand, we noticed the need for a central point of focus for this new technology. We call it the Heart of Automation.
The Heart of Automation is a steering wheel augmented with touch sensors and a 3D track pad. Drivers control the heads up display using touch and voice interactions.
To make sure drivers feel empowered rather than threatened by the new technology - we devised four scenarios of future use: joining a truck convoy; leading the convoy; passive driving; and leaving the convoy.
From this we learned that the HUD interface needs to scale with the level of attention required by the driver in his current role in the convoy. The importance of ‘presence’ and communication amongst drivers in difficult driving situations also stood out. By having touch-sensors embedded directly in the steering wheel, the lead driver could be informed at any time about the level of alertness of every driver in the convoy.