Digital displays have become the norm, rather than the exception, these days, with some products, like the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, covering the entire instrument panel in glass. But it’s the “smarts” behind those screens that really matter. Even the largest displays are relatively worthless if they make it difficult for a motorist to find what they need and then execute a command without taking eyes off the road for more than a second.
Battery-car startup Lucid Motors is getting ready to roll out its first product, the Air sedan, later this year. And, like so many new EVs, there will be only a handful of traditional controls, virtually everything operated by twin touchscreens. The automaker claims its new Lucid User Experience offers “intuitive interactions at every turn,” all but knowing what a driver wants to do before they realize.
“In much the same way that a holistic, clean-sheet approach to design and engineering has made possible the revolutionary packaging and efficiency of Lucid Air, this built-from-the-ground-up strategy has also enabled the creation of Lucid UX, a truly innovative human-machine interface that is easy-to-use and aesthetically beautiful,” said Derek Jenkins, senior vice president of Design and Brand, Lucid Motors.
TheDetroitBureau.com got a first look at the Lucid UX last weekend during a ride-along in an Air prototype. But a number of functions weren’t yet activated. Today, Lucid revealed more about what the fully functioning system can handle.
Reaching out and touching something
There actually are three screens in the Lucid Air, starting with a large “glass cockpit” cluster visible behind the steering wheel. To the left of the gauge cluster a driver can touch virtual controls for core vehicle functions including lighting, wipers and rear defrost.
To the right, there’s a wide touchscreen that handles navigation, media and communications functions, with yet another touchscreen, the “Pilot Panel” floating atop the center stack. One of the most interesting features is the ability to move images, menus and functions back and forth between those two touchscreens.
Lucid says the colors used in the various displays will be “color-matched to the fabrics and trims” a buyer opts for.
The Lucid Air will offer the usual assortment of connectivity options, including the likes of wireless Apple CarPlay, as well as Android Auto, And it offers the first automotive application of the Dolby Atmos audio system in a 21-speaker “Surreal Sound system.”
Concierge-style services available
Voice commands will be integrated into the sedan, as well, using Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, here capable to handle numerous vehicle operations, along with Alexa’s more normal capabilities. That includes the ability to turn lights on or off at home, or use a verbal command to operate a garage door opener.
The Air will feature an onboard WiFi hotspot and the system will allow Lucid to deliver vehicle upgrades using smartphone-style over-the-air updates. The system also will allow a motorist to remotely check things like the vehicle’s charge level, and trigger pre-conditioning of the cabin so it is comfortable and ready to go while still plugged into a charger, extending range.
Lucid claims to have moved to a different electronic vehicle architecture that consolidates the Air’s microprocessing layout. That should significantly boost the speed of the system.
The sedan also features an array of 32 different onboard sensors that include not only cameras and radar but the first automotive application of high-resolution LIDAR. Among the planned updates will be a near-autonomous driving package.
The Lucid Air Dream Edition will go on sale late this year. That fully loaded package will be less expensive versions over the following year.