Audi assess self-driving car interiors

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Audi is researching the interaction of man and machine with its new driverless car simulator. The car giant has teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute in its 25th Hour project, which is investigating how car interiors will change with driverless technology. The simulator features large scale projections via displays that can introduce digital distractions, have the lights dimmed and induce various background noise.

“When cars no longer have a steering wheel, mobility can be newly defined,” said Melanie Goldmann, head of culture and trends communication at Audi. “We want to find out what is important for making optimal use of time in a self-driving car.”

The test concentrated on younger drivers, so-called millennials, who were born after 1980 and are regarded as receptive to self-driving cars. The 30 test-persons carried out various tasks requiring concentration comparable with a work situation in a self-driving car.

As they did this, their brain activity was measured (EEG), as well as reaction times and error quotas, and subjective impressions were noted. The results showed that when windows were dimmed, the light settings optimised, and digital messages were suppressed, tasks were then solved better and more quickly. The test persons also stated that they were less distracted.

By contrast, participants were shown advertising, received information from social networks, and did not benefit from pleasant lighting settings or dimmed windows.

“The results show that the task is to find the right balance,” says Goldmann. “In a digital future, there are no limits as to what can be imagined. We could offer everything in the car – really overwhelm the user with information.”