How do you convey all the information a driver needs when they’re blasting around a track at 150 miles an hour? That’s a challenge that McLaren is trying to address with a concept vehicle that showcases a new digital cockpit it could integrate into future supercar designs.
Based on a production McLaren 650S Spider, the system was developed as part of a partnership with Japanese electronics firm JVCKenwood.
The prototype integrates a variety of different systems that can both gather and display a variety of critical “mission” data, as well as controlling the infotainment systems an owner might use off the track – something dubbed Caroptronics.
The system includes not only touchscreen monitors but head-up displays and other projection systems, as well as digital mirrors. All the displays are centered around the steering wheel and traditional instrument cluster to minimize the amount a driver’s eyes and hands might have to wander.
Making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show, the display technology itself is called i-ADAS, and features a reconfigurable instrument cluster that can present a wide range of information, more in line with what pilots now see in the latest aerospace “glass” displays.
(Mercedes-Benz F015 is a hydrogen-powered, autonomous lounge on wheels. Click Here to check it out.)
Immediately above that high-tech gauge cluster, three video screens provide high-definition images that replace conventional rear and sideview mirrors. An additional, tablet-sized display, in a vertical orientation, sits to the side of the driver and can, for example, provide a large rendering of a track, following the vehicle’s progress in real time.
Additional information, including RPMs and shift lights, pops up on the prototype McLaren’s head-up display, or HUD screen.
The goal is to maximize the information available while minimizing distraction and overload.
(Toyota giving away access to 1,000s of hydrogen fuel-cell patents. Click Here to find out why.)
For the moment, McLaren and its partners aren’t saying whether they have plans for production, but it seems highly likely the Caroptronics system will influence future products from the British maker.
Automakers, in general, have been migrating to more advanced electronic gauges and instruments, and reconfigurable displays have become commonplace on higher-end vehicles and sports cars, such as the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
The Tesla Model S uses a laptop-sized touchscreen to operate most vehicle functions, an approach the upcoming Detroit Electric SP:01 will follow.
A number of other advanced display systems are on display at this year’s CES. Volkswagen’s Golf R Touch actually incorporates a touch-less system that can operate controls by reading a motorist’s hand gestures.
(VW Golf R Touch concept actually uses touch-less gesture controls. Click Here for a closer look.)
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept can replace the sites passengers might see out the window with digital “scenery.”
Meanwhile, Jaguar is working on a prototype that would project a phantom car that a motorist would follow, rather than having to interpret conventional arrows signaling when to make a turn.