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April 25, 2016

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Hands-free driving portends a revamp in automotive interiors

THE dawn of the autonomous driving era is influencing even the most traditional automaking segments — interiors. Hands-free, foot-free controls will totally transform the driver-passenger dynamics within the cabin. Yanfeng Automotive Interiors calls it a “better life on board.”

The company emerged as the world’s largest supplier of automotive interiors last year following its merger with US-based Johnson Controls. The recent China debut of its Innovation Demonstrator 2016 concept car in Shanghai offers a preview of driving comfort and convenience in the first-generation of autonomous cars expected by 2025.

Switching between different driving modes requires transformer-like interiors. With the steering wheel retracting into the instrument panel and the driver seat moving back, more room can be created for the driver. Every seat can rotate 18 degrees outward to allow face-to-face integration of everyone on board.

The end of driver fatigue in autonomous cars means the advent of more personal enjoyment or engagement, now available at a two-way coolbox, and a built-in rotating table for eating, reading or working. LED ambient lighting placed seamlessly along the entire instrument panel and doors tunes its hue according to the auto-drive mode. It is all a pleasant setting until the driver receives a sudden wake-up call about an imminent danger, only to find his seat and steering wheel not in positions for manual control. Yanfeng said under such circumstances, the car will respond with an emergency stopping system. The car’s interior takes a short time to revert back to manual control, giving those on board a chance to recover from the shock.


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