Audi’s ’25th Hour’ Project finds out how we’ll spend our time in self driving cars

With autonomous cars on the rise, one wonders how our interactions with our vehicle change over time. Since we won’t be driving, what will we actually do during road trips?

Audi might have an answer to this question. After the introduction of its new Level 3 autonomous A8 in Barcelona, the company talked about its research project called the 25th Hour, which aims to “define the premium mobility of the future”.

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The company collaborated with Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering to determine how riders will spend time in their autonomous vehicles and how manufacturers can tweak the interior to enable people to carry out their activities with ease. Given that, people spend approximately 50 minutes a day in their cars, Audi plans to ensure that the rider spends them effectively and productively using an “intelligent human machine interface”.

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The automakers started the study by collecting data on the ways people currently utilize their infotainment center in order to forecast the future activities of passengers. After consulting with experts in psychology and anthropology, the team determined three “time modes” future cars will have i.e. quality time, productive time and time for regeneration.

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Next, they began their work with the team at Fraunhofer to build a special “driving” simulator to determine how subjects would react to various stimuli. The simulator mainly consisted of an adjustable cabin (free of a steering wheel), along with dimming windows, variable ambient lighting and computer-generated background noise. The simulation took the test subject on a drive through the city during the night using large projections on the walls, and showed information displayed on the “windows” of the car.

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Researchers chose 30 millennials belonging to Hamburg, San Francisco and Tokyo, as the test subjects for their experiment. Hooked up to an EEG for brain monitoring, the subjects performed a range of tasks requiring concentration and were also shown ads and social media updates. The simulated brain activity was recorded along with any errors and subject impressions. Naturally, results determined that the test subject felt much more relaxed in a noise-free cabin with dimmed windows and no interruptions. In comparison to current transportation methods, a solo autonomous driving experience will be completely new and unfamiliar to anyone around and as a high-tech, luxury auto-industry, it is quite necessary for Audi to select the ideal environment for its future self-driving cars.

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“The results show that the task is to find the right balance,” says Melanie Goldmann, head of Culture and Trends Communication at Audi. “In a digital future, there are no limits to what can be imagined. We could offer everything in the car – really overwhelm the user with information. But we want to put people at the center of attention. The car should become a smart membrane. The right information should reach the user at the right time.”

Despite the seemingly obvious results of the experiment, Audi plans to find the perfect balance between information and relaxation for the best riding experience in its robo-driven vehicles.

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All Images: © Audi

h/t: New Atlas

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