Panasonic’s first full integration of instrument panel, console and infotainment systems transforms vehicle interior
Panasonic Automotive announced today that it will showcase its new eCockpit concept for the first time at the North American International Auto Show, January 12 – 15, 2015. The system is Panasonic’s first full integration of infotainment, vision, driver assist and comfort features in a user-friendly interface designed to help reduce driver distraction.
“One of the benefits of being a vertically integrated company is that our electronics experience crosses all interior systems,” said Scott Kirchner, Vice President, Engineering and CTO. “By taking a holistic approach, we can integrate all of the information typically available in the dashboard and center console into an exciting design that is attractive, intuitive, easy-to-use and accessible.”
The eCockpit encompasses the following aspects:
- Integrating key driver information and infotainment into a large, full-color head-up display
- Assists in managing driver distraction while increasing the quantity of content and connectivity
The demands for drivers attention is constantly increasing. To keep drivers focused on the road, the information and control systems in vehicles can no longer be treated as individual systems. The eCockpit combines the three primary driver information displays – center console, instrument cluster, and head up display – which all together provide a seamless and safe, driver-centric approach. The system takes information that traditionally was only provided in the center console display and makes it available in the instrument cluster or in a head up display.
One of the most exciting innovations in the eCockpit is its ability to give auto manufacturers design flexibility to customize the system for their brands. Panasonic Automotive has developed reconfigurable knobs, allowing designers to affix physical rotary knobs anywhere on the center stack display. The eCockpit integrates these physical knobs on the touch screen to provide the best of both worlds.
This patent-pending haptic knob technology is part of what is among the industry’s largest center stack displays at 11.6” and adds to the eCockpit’s flexibility. The knobs are not only reconfigurable, but also multi-functional – allowing one knob to do the job of many.
“We believe it will be the balance of touch screens with mechanical and haptic knobs for ease-of-use and reducing driver distraction that consumers will ultimately embrace,” added Don Turner, Group Manager, Advanced eCockpit Engineering. “By including these tactile and touch screen features on a larger screen, we can give drivers ‘eyes-on-the-road’ control of entertainment, navigation and climate.”
Adding to the eCockpit’s flexibility, the instrument cluster is 12.3” and is fully reconfigurable based on the driver’s preferences. Infotainment options can also be viewed and controlled via the instrument cluster and steering wheel controls.
In addition to the larger, reconfigurable console and instrument cluster screens, a futuristic head up display has been developed for the eCockpit. Panasonic’s proprietary optical technology from camera and projection systems allowed the company to offer nearly double the image size of traditional automotive head up displays. The increased size allows the most relevant information to be in front of the driver to ensure they keep their hands on the wheel. For example, incoming call control has been added to the head up display via steering wheel controls.
The driver-focused eCockpit interface features:
Large, full-color head-up display:
- Industry leading width x height virtual image size and intensity
- Innovative center console
- Industry-leading 11.6 inch HD infotainment touch screen to address customer’s desire to seamlessly interact with all entertainment, navigation and climate control features
- Consistent and seamless user interface with no home or back buttons required
- Industry-leading 12.3 inch HD instrument cluster with sport rings
- Reconfigurable display and content
- Touch-pad steering wheel controls to facilitate “eyes on the road” control
“Our objective with the eCockpit is to provide safe vehicle operation with the connectivity and content demanded by today’s drivers,” added Kirchner. “This is really a design and software challenge that takes all vehicle systems into account. It’s not easy to make easy-to-use technology, but that’s exactly what the team has accomplished thanks to their broad electronics experience and a vision for the next driver system solutions.”