The accelerator pedal as an interface: Haptic driver communication is perceived as discreet and effective
Our vehicles are being equipped with more and more driver assistance systems, leading to better supported drivers and protected occupants. If necessary, errors are not only indicated, but even corrected. Plans are afoot to further improve the protection of pedestrians in road traffic. Current discussions in the EU Commission are examining the use of driver assistance systems to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents.
The importance of these systems is undisputed. However, the variety of visible and audible warnings, while usually welcome, sometimes leads to over stimulation. All vehicle occupants have to participate in this flashing and noisy experience. Particularly sensitive settings may even give the impression that the driver is constantly making mistakes. Why else would there be a warning?!
All in all, this can lead to a feeling of paternalism, and ultimately to annoyance of the driver. Although the benefits of assistance systems are undisputed, warnings are sometimes perceived as premature or even superfluous.
In the worst case the systems are switched off manually, so that peace prevails!
Only recently I experienced this myself with a fully equipped rental vehicle and a very sensitive co-driver. The early warning tones of the lane change assistant, the good advice from the passenger seat…you can imagine how fervently I wished to reach for the OFF button… for both!
Isn’t it high time to reduce the flashing and beeping in the car, and to use more effective and polite communication Interfaces?
Here you can see an overview of the most common warning systems. Further assistance systems will be added through the diversity of future drive technologies. With electric drives, for example, the transition from electric driving to combustion mode is worth reporting: Pling! There is a shift recommendation for increasing efficiency: Pling! The list could go on and on, but this blog is about an alternative.
Our solution: direct haptic feedback via the accelerator pedal from AB Elektronik
The dialogue with a haptic accelerator pedal is noiseless, imperceptible to all passengers and extremely effective. As a rule, there is permanent contact between the driver’s foot and the accelerator pedal. We use the pedal plate to transmit optimally coordinated haptic signals. This triggers an intuitive reaction on the part of the driver, which is faster than an optical or acoustic stimulus.
What can a haptic accelerator pedal actually do?
In its basic function, the haptic accelerator pedal converts, for example, an actuating angle into an electrical voltage. It produces a counterforce that is felt by the driver, with or without a kick-down function.
As an option, the accelerator pedal can also generate additional haptic functions. These include a targeted increase in pedal force, or tapping on the pedal plate under the driver’s foot, to name but two.
The following graphics show possibilities for varying the additional functions of the pedal force that can be enabled.
Status of development and application today
AB Elektronik developed a haptic accelerator pedal at an early stage, which went into series production at a Japanese OEM in 2008. With this “full version” of a haptic accelerator, all of the above power modifications were possible. The overall system became correspondingly complex and cost intensive. In these first generation products, the additional sensors required to control the haptic function in relation to the pedal angle are primarily regarded as cost drivers. In addition, thermal challenges arose in these models, which required a special heat dissipating design, leading to additional weight and a further cost increase.
The subsequent practical phases brought new insights, and created a learning curve that led to simplifying the structure, significantly reducing weight and minimizing power consumption. The result was a modern, haptic accelerator pedal suitable for future vehicle generations.
Today, haptic pedals are used in various luxury vehicles. Their application serves to reduce fuel consumption and/or to signal when the drive switches between electric to combustion modes.
A look into the future of haptic accelerators
In future, haptic accelerator pedals of the first generation, a full version with all force modulations, will no longer be in demand for cost reasons.
Based on a large number of discussions with automotive manufacturers, we see the following trends:
OEMs are demanding haptic accelerator pedals, limited to only one function. This allows simple, customer specific designs to be developed that are compact and cost effective.
This trend is reflected in a recently published draft EU law, whose aim is to increase driving safety through the use of an intelligent speed assistant.
Coupled with sign recognition, this gives the driver a tactile signal via the accelerator pedal when the speed limit is reached or exceeded.
AB Elektronik’s pedal design for suspended accelerator pedals allows such a function to be integrated.
For example, a double impulse is converted at the pedal plate, generated by a corresponding actuator.
The space required for this is small, and it is available in standard installation space conditions. Even retrofitting existing applications is possible under certain conditions.
Thank you very much for your interest. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your customer-specific applications!
Product Application Manager Driver Demand Controls
Find out more about the technical properties and designs of our pedals here: https://bit.ly/2TkfhvI