Fit to travel
Improving not just the driving experience, but the driver’s health at the same time.
Lisa Marie Feldmann
24 May, 2018
Every Audi is already equipped with state-of-the-art technology and offers the very highest levels of comfort and safety. “We want to go one step further and consistently place the individual front and centre,”says Project Leader Christiane Stark. And thus the Audi Fit Driver project was born. Audi employees from a diverse array of departments and functions have been working together on this for around two years.
The core thinking behind Audi Fit Driver is the empathetic vehicle that recognises the current status and condition of the driver – whether they are tense or tired, and reacts accordingly. The system analyses a variety of health parameters for the individual at the wheel and considers what could be good and helpful for them at the time.
Thanks to intelligent algorithms, the car gets to know the driver better and better over time. This means that Audi Fit Driver is more than a system; it is a digital co-driver with the mission of making the drive a relaxed and stress-free experience.
"This means that Audi Fit Driver is more than a system; it is a digital co-driver with the mission of making the drive a relaxed and stress-free experience."
"If lowered heart rate variability is detected, Audi Fit Driver offers a relaxing breathing exercise."
Monitoring through wearables
Audi Fit Driver calculates the condition of the driver using vehicle sensors and wearables such as smart watches and fitness bands.
“Self-tracking and digital health are megatrends that we are seeing worldwide across all age groups,” says Franz Mirlach, who is responsible for the Online and Car-to-X function in Advanced Development.
“We are integrating wearables into driver condition recognition with Audi Fit Driver as they also gather data outside of the car on things like fitness and quality of sleep,” says Mirlach.
The data are transmitted from the wearable to a smartphone app and then onward to the car. “We thus receive an accurate description of the driver’s condition, whether they are stressed or tired,” explains Mirlach.
Audi Fit Driver works with learning algorithms that adapt specifically to the individual. Measurement values from vehicle sensors, such as steering movements or current driving behaviour supplement the assessment. If the system notices that the driver is tense, it could offer them relaxing breathing exercises or a stress-relieving massage.
“One new feature is the ability to actively relieve stress and improve concentration in the car through HRV biofeedback,” explains Thomas Mann, who is developing the Audi Fit Driver app. If lowered heart rate variability is detected, Audi Fit Driver offers a relaxing breathing exercise.
As soon as the driver begins the exercise, the MMI provides a visual rhythm for inhaling and exhaling – at around six breaths per minute. At the same time, a gentle voice provides acoustic guidance via the speaker and a sensor monitors the heart rate. Breathing slowly and deeply leads to relaxation and improves wellbeing in a short space of time. The driver also receives a visual indicator, to make them aware that the exercise was a success.
Musical seat massage
Audi Fit Driver works with new massage techniques to provide the driver with even more relaxation. As well as calming pneumatic pressure-point massage, which kneads the area around the spine with the aid of 10 air pockets incorporated into the seat, Audi is developing a revitalising massage that stimulates the driver when tired or fatigued. Known as a vibration massage, it uses eight elements – six in the backrest, two in the seat cushion. And it delivers a whole new experience – massage in time to music.
“Tones are a series of sound waves generated inside the vehicle by specific voltage frequencies that the human ear then interprets as a melody,” explains Lars Ellermann, Advanced Development Concept and Structure. “We take these voltages from the respective sound system and process them in a control unit, using it to filter out specific frequencies.”
Basses and rhythmic beats are used to activate the individual vibration elements, generating our 4D sound.”
"Audi Fit Driver works with new massage techniques to provide the driver with even more relaxation."
"Audi Fit Driver improves the fitness and wellbeing of the driver, while increasing road safety – very much in keeping with ‘My Audi cares for me’."
Interior lighting concepts
The cherry on top of Audi Fit Driver is the interior lighting concept.
“Light brightens the mood and has a powerful influence on our biorhythm,” says Julia Kastner, Advanced Development Interior Lighting, which is why the interior lighting greets the driver with a subtle green or blue tone that pulses in time with their heartbeat.
“Added to that is visual augmentation of the HRV biofeedback provided by corresponding lighting,” she explains. Red indicates the stressed state and green the desired state, while yellow is the area in between.
Audi Fit Driver also increases safety in extreme situations. A later evolution is therefore set to incorporate the assistance and safety systems as well as future systems for piloted driving.
If, for example, the driver loses consciousness or suffers a heart attack, a piloted emergency stop is initiated and an alarm sent to the emergency services.
Audi Fit Driver improves the fitness and wellbeing of the driver, while increasing road safety – very much in keeping with ‘My Audi cares for me’. However, one thing always takes top priority in developing the system – the driver is and remains master of their personal data.
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