Today’s driver is very likely well-versed and comfortable with the vibrating brake pedal that lets them know that the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system has been engaged and everything is working appropriately.
Now Bosch Corp. is taking that type of feedback, also known as haptic feedback, to the other pedal on the floor. The German supplier has developed a gas pedal that will vibrate to let the driver know when he or she is driving in a way that is less than optimal when it comes to fuel economy.
Bosch says its “active gas pedal” reduces fuel consumption by as much as 7% when its networked with other automotive functions, such as the transmission. For example, in a vehicle with a manual transmission, it will vibrate at the optimal time to shift gears while accelerating. The system offers other benefits as well.
“The Bosch active gas pedal helps drivers save fuel—and alerts them to potentially dangerous situations as well,” said Stefan Seiberth, president of the Gasoline Systems division of Robert Bosch GmbH. “The pedal tells the driver when the economy and acceleration curves intersect.”
If the vehicle has an assistance system, the pedal becomes a warning indicator: coupled with the navigation system or a camera that recognizes road signs, the innovative Bosch gas pedal gives drivers a haptic warning signal if, for example, they are approaching a dangerous bend at too high a speed.
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Haptic feedback options have been find their way through vehicles in a variety of ways. Many automakers are using them to give touchscreens a more interactive “feel.” By giving users a bit of sensation when they press a “button” on a touchscreen it confirms that the input has been received and whatever they selected, i.e. a radio station, activation of the air conditioning, is going to occur.
Cadillac’s CUE system uses the technology currently. GM uses it in other ways as well. The maker’s Cadillac and GMC models use haptic feedback for safety purposes. If the driver begins to move into another lane and another vehicle is there, the seat will vibrate letting them know there is an object there. Not only does vibrate, it shakes on the left or right depending upon where the vehicle is in relation to driver’s car or truck.
The technology is spread across a variety of platforms. The new iPhone 6S uses it to give users feedback when they are pressing the touchscreen. It’s also used on the new MacBook Air to simulate pressure on the trackpad. It calls the system “Force Touch.”
The Force Touch trackpad responds to your taps and presses with haptic feedback technology that you can actually feel. Haptic feedback allows the trackpad to recreate of the sense of touch by simulating vibrations and other motions, meaning it’ll let you feel a click on the trackpad, even though the trackpad isn’t actually moving downward when clicked.
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In an automotive setting, drivers can expect that haptic feedback will drive many safety and other technologies as drivers become more comfortable with them as they did with the vibrating brake pedal when ABS became more popular.
In connection with collision warning systems, the system can create a vibrating signal warning drivers not to accelerate any further. A simple change to the software settings is all that is needed to tailor the type and force of haptic feedback to automakers’ specifications.
The Bosch gas pedal can also be connected with the navigation system, enabling it to warn drivers if they are approaching a sharp bend at too high a speed. In addition, the gas pedal can be coupled with a camera that recognizes speed-limit signs. If drivers exceed the speed limit, the gas pedal will warn them by vibrating or exerting counter-pressure.
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Internet connectivity opens up even more possibilities, according to Bosch. A connected car may warn drivers about dangerous situations, such as wrong-way drivers, unexpected congestion, crossing traffic and other hazards, to the driver through the vibrating gas pedal.