OPE Journal

SMART LIVING & MOBILITY 8 No 34 | March 2021 | OPE journal Vehicles of the future are being trans- formed today to meet the societal challenge of reversing climate change. Meeting zero- emission goals, increasing shared mobility and improving safety are some of the focal points. The latter is not limited to reduc- ing accidents, but also focuses on stopping the spread of viruses, something which the recent pandemic has made us acutely aware of. Manufacturers of cars and commercial vehicles and their supply chain are exploring, developing and implementing new technolo- gies to meet the upcoming European regula- tions on safety. TNO at Holst Centre supports the automotive supply chain by bringing their expertise in flexible electronics to the table. Innovations in flexible electronic materials and processes enable new features in car interiors: transparent displays, safe and programmable interfaces and sensing chairs. In this article you will learn more about the technologies behind these new features and how they can enhance comfort and safety in the cockpits of the future. Blind spots become visible To achieve ‘zero road deaths and serious injuries’ by 2050, new European regula- tions dictate that detection of vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists by commercial vehicles should be improved. One of the main topics is reducing or even eliminating a truck’s blind spot, where the field of view is limited. Cameras are available, but information they generate is typically displayed outside the driver’s direct line of sight, increasing distraction. There is a need to bring all available information into one line of sight. A future solution is the use of transparent signage or displays in the window of a truck that only signal dangerous situations. A warning or camera image can be displayed if a car, a cyclist or a pedestrian is present in the truck’s blind spot, but in other situations the window is transparent. This innovation is enabled by the developments of very small pixels, the so called mini-and micro-LEDs in combination with transparent conductors and large-area, low-cost processing technologies. TNO at Holst Centre has demonstrated full roll-to- roll manufacturing of up to 30-metre-long flexible LED foils, and now focuses on improving transparency and resolution together with its network of material and component suppliers. In addition, we team up with assembly equipment partners and end-users to bring this technology to the market. Sensing seats Another safety aspect of the upcoming European safety regulations is that they require detection of driver fatigue and alertness in all motorised vehicles. There are several methods available today, but each has its own drawbacks. Cameras infringe on privacy, steering wheel hands-on-detection can be tricked, and lane monitoring does not work in all weather conditions. On top of that it would be beneficial to be able to detect a driver’s emotional state, as anger and stress also increase the chance of having an accident. With sensor mats invisibly inte- grated in car seats, it becomes possible to unobtrusively monitor people’s physical and emotional state. These sensor mats contain a dense grid of pressure and piezo sensors, allowing direct sensing of physiological parameters. The principle used to detect movement, heart rate and respiration rate with piezo sensors is called Ballistography and it measures the vibration produced by pulsating blood or breathing. TNO at Holst Centre has demonstrated the ability to meas- ure a driver’s heart rate and respiration rate under driving conditions with a system that passed most automotive tests. TNO at Holst centre has optimised the process to directly ‘print’ piezo and pressure sensors on highly conformable substrates, enabling low-cost, large-area sensors that can be unobtrusively Flexible LED foil from TNO’s fully automated roll-2-roll assembly line Enhanced comfort and safety in future cockpit design Lotte Willems, business development manager, TNO at Holst Centre, highlights the latest in car interiors: transparent displays, safe and programmable interfaces and sensing chairs