(GERMANY)

Audi is busy researching the self-driving experiences people find most enjoyable. It has joined forces with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, experts in human-machine interaction, to run a series of tests.

Several scenarios were tried out recently in a driving simulator – at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart – to gauge how work and play activities could best work for each individual inside an autonomous car. The trials are part of Audi’s ’25th Hour’ project, which is investigating how the average time spent in a car – 50 minutes – can be put to good use in the robot cars of the future.

“When cars no longer have a steering wheel, premium mobility can be newly defined. In future, people traveling from A to B will be able to surf the internet at leisure, play with their children – or do concentrated work. Together with the experts from the Fraunhofer Institute, we want to find out what is important for making optimal use of time in a self-driving car,” said Melanie Goldmann, head of Culture and Trends Communication at Audi.

Using a electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor brain activity, the results – from the 30 millennials who took part – revealed the brain became more relaxed in a relaxed environment with no digital distractions. This changed when a more typical set of daily experienced were added, like social media alerts, as it put greater pressure on the brain.

Goldmann added: “The results show that the task is to find the right balance. 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.”