What is a premium experience like in a self-driving car? Audi has said it is researching this in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering—one of Germany’s foremost research incubators. In a futuristic driving simulator, experts on human-machine interaction have been investigating how the car interior can become a perfect workplace. The findings have helped the carmaker to provide every user with a personally optimised automobile interior in the future. This research cooperation is part of the Audi project called “25th Hour.”
“When cars no longer have a steering wheel, premium mobility can be newly defined. In the future, people travelling from point A to B will be able to surf the internet at leisure, play with their children, or do concentrated work,” said Melanie Goldmann, head of Culture and Trends Communication at Audi. “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.”
The “25th Hour” project
Today, drivers spend an average of about 50 minutes per day at the wheel. In the 25th Hour project, Audi said it is investigating how this time could be used better in a self-driving automobile. This project is based on the assumption that an intelligent human-machine interface will learn the user’s individual preferences and adapt flexibly. “In this way, Audi customers can gain full control of their time,” the company noted.
In the first step, the project team looked at people in Hamburg, San Francisco and Tokyo, focusing on two aspects. How is infotainment used in the car today? And what would people like to do with their free time in the car of the future?
The results were then discussed with experts including psychologists, anthropologists, and urban and mobility planners.
In the second step, the Audi team defined three time modes that are conceivable in a self-driving car: quality time, productive time and time for regeneration. In quality time, people spend their time in activities with their children or telephoning family and friends. In productive time, they usually work. In down time, they relax by reading, surfing the internet or watching a film.
To research these time modes further, Audi has recruited the help of scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute. In the current research series, the team is principally concentrating on productive time. Data collection from this research could contribute hugely to Audi’s future autonomous car.