Before pedestrians cross the road in front of a car, they usually seek eye contact with the driver. This could soon change. For when fully automated vehicles are on the road, drivers might for example check their mail at that moment. This then requires another kind of communication. Within the context of the EU-funded international research project interACT launched in May 2017, lighting and electronics expert HELLA and its project partners will research over the next three years how communication between automated and non-automated road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicle drivers could look like. The focus here will initially be on passenger cars in an urban environment.
When it comes to communication between humans and vehicles, lighting has a particular role to play. “However, today’s lighting systems inside and outside the vehicle are by far not enough for replacing eye contact, gestures and language”, says Dr. Michael Kleinkes, Vice President Development Lighting & Innovation at HELLA. “In the context of this project, we therefore research and develop a system, which can reliable accomplish that.”
The researchers will thus define at first, which situations require communication. Then, they will research methods for achieving this in the best possible way — whether by using projections, symbols or colors. “Communication must after all not only work at night, but also during the day”, explains Kleinkes. “Furthermore, it should be clear and intuitive and work internationally.” HELLA will then create a prototype and integrate the lighting modules inside a vehicle. For making this possible, the project partners will cover the entire value-added chain.
Research and development are significant components of the HELLA DNA. The focus throughout will be on technologies for the central market trends of the automotive industry, such as autonomous driving, connectivity & digitalization, efficiency & electrification as well as individualization. Against this background, the development of high-resolution lighting systems is gradually gaining in importance. Lighting will also take on other and additional functions in the future.