Cars Get Smarter

The future of in-car infotainment and autonomous driving

Fabien Roth is General Manager – Advanced Infotainment Marketing – Panasonic Automotive and Industrial Systems Europe GmbH. We asked him rstly to tell us a little more about his role within the company.

I head marketing and product planning activities for infotainment products. The latter part of the title means I get to plot- out the future of what the car will be in ve, ten or fteen years.

Talking about planning the future, we heard – in the keynote at IFA by the Daimler CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche – about the fact that the car is going to be the “next big thing” when it comes to infotainment. What is changing in fact?

There is a big shift from the consumer technologies to the car environment. What you can see is that displays are coming into cars, that they are bigger, they have more resolution, and more purposes. For instance, you now have displays not only for navigation, but also for instrument cluster and what will happen in the future is that those displays will certainly multiply, come in the back seats, but also be an interface for you to steer some of the functions of the car. Why? Because on displays you can have different technologies that are “touch” – like on a tablet – but you can also have capacitive displays, and that means you can steer functions without touching the displays, just by moving your hand. So the first thing is the display revolution, and the second thing is autonomous driving – the fact that the car will be able to take decisions by itself – to drive by itself.

IN LEVEL FOUR OR FIVE OF AUTONOMOUS DRIVING, THE CAR IS ABLE TO DRIVE BY ITSELF, AND THIS IS GOING TO OPEN A NEW PARADIGM

What do you personally nd to be the most exciting aspect?

I think where Panasonic can bring value- added is because we have experience with consumers and we know how consumers react. And in a car, the big thing is the user interface – how you interact with the car. You used to push buttons; you used to turn your head to look at things. Now, the car will be able to inform you about things happening around you, but you will also be able to steer functions without touching things – sometimes just with watching – having cameras watching your eyes – with eye tracking, and the car will be able also to understand your state of mind. The car can detect if you are tense or stressed, and then can act in order to increase security or safety. For instance, if the car sees that you are stressed – or if the car knows there is an accident ahead of you, maybe the car will not accept an incoming phone call. That’s only the first level of intelligence, and that’s what’s going to change the experience you have in the car.

What is the future of autonomous driving?

In level four or ve of autonomous driving, the car is able to drive by itself, and this is going to open a new paradigm, which is the occupation of the driver. Actually, you won’t have a driver anymore, so it will be about what you want to do in a car – what your experience will be. It will probably be centred around entertainment, or around working, and some people would like to relax. This should be a regular occurrence by 2025. But there are some projects and initiatives. For instance, they are working on a motorway between Belgium and Germany that will have captors in the road, and these will be tested in the not too distant future. We will also soon be seeing new safety technologies emerging, such as form recognition and pedestrian recognition.

What’s happening with the connected car?

The connected car has numerous bene ts. There is the safety bene t – to know where you are and what you are doing. But also it can give you access to services, and it enables the car to have a certain level of intelligence, and will enable cars to start to talk to each other. From an infrastructure point of view, it’s as important as the sensors that will be built into the roads when it comes to enabling autonomous driving.

 

Panasonic provides electronic components to most of the major car manufacturers. They claim to be the number one display manufacturer for cars and also the number one battery manufacturer.