Volkswagen showcases inductive charging w/ “power lift”, autonomous and semi-autonomous capabilities & gesture control at CES
At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, Volkswagen is showcasing the ongoing development of more connected, more intelligent vehicles by demonstrating four main aspects of emerging mobility technology: computer-controlled drive systems; app and smartphone integration; intuitive vehicle operation; and autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.
These technologies are realized in several different vehicles for CES: the e-Golf Intelligent Charge with inductive charging (with “power lift”); an e-Golf with Trained Parking; the Golf R Touch concept with gesture control; and the Connected Golf—an e-Golf equipped with the latest generation (MIB II) infotainment system incorporating a range of apps, smartphones and tablets via a progressive interface management system.
e-Golf Intelligent Charge
Over the mid-term, it will be even easier and more convenient to charge EVs and plug-in hybrids with the market launch of inductive charging systems; Volkswagen is demonstrating this with an e-Golf at CES. As soon as the control and communications unit of the charging plate in the pavement has established a connection with the vehicle over a communications channel, contactless energy transmission can begin via an electromagnetic field between two coils—one in the floor of the parking space and one in the e-Golf.
Beforehand, a “power lift” moves the charging plate integrated in the parking space into proximity with the underbody of the Golf. This results in just a minimal air gap between the two coils: in contrast to fixed floor systems without a power lift, greater energy efficiency is achieved, and the electromagnetic limits (EMC values) can be satisfied without any problems.
Inductive charging with a power lift is also safe and easy. A separate menu on the navigation system display enables automatic and precise parking of the car over the charge plate. The car is positioned either with the help of a front camera using special markings around the charging plate or based on an electronic guide beam emitted by the charging plate. In both methods, the precision results in less than ± 2 inches off target in the driving direction and less than ± 4 inches perpendicular to the driving direction.
The driver can use a smartphone app as an alternative. In this case, the car is essentially remote controlled. During the entire automated positioning process, all the driver needs to do is press a soft key. Once the e-Golf is positioned above the charging plate, communication is established between the car and the system, and finally energy transfer occurs, with an efficiency of 93%. The start of the energy transfer is indicated to the driver via a special flashing sequence of the headlights and taillights.
Charge state indicator. Today, on all Volkswagen vehicles with an electric or plug-in hybrid drive system, the battery charging status is indicated in the instrument panel or via LEDs near the charging socket. While the instruments show a charge level, the LED indicators show a color-graded interval for the state-of-charge.
This interval is now simultaneously shown on the exterior lights of an e-Golf via the Charge Check function that is being shown for the first time in Las Vegas. The goal is to enable the driver to be able to see whether the battery is still charging or is fully charged from any angle.
Volkswagen uses the sidelights and the LED daytime running lights at the front and the LED taillights and the high-mounted stoplight at the back to show the state-of-charge. The light indicator is activated when the charge plug is connected and after activating the central locking, which activates the charging process. The state-of-charge is then briefly displayed for 5 to 10 seconds.
If the battery is fully charged, the lighting is continuous. If the charging process is still actively taking place, the LEDs pulse at a long interval. If an active departure time has been set, the LEDs flash at a short interval. If the LEDs do not output any of the three named signals—despite the charge plug being connected or the car being parked over an inductive charging plate—then the charging process is inactive.
Possible reasons for this could include a lack of electrical supply voltage, the shift lever not being in “P”, the car not being parked properly over an inductive charging plate, or a fault in the charging system.
e-Station Guide. For drivers of electric cars, it is important to have charging stations shown and described as points of interest (POIs) on digital street maps. If a mapped charging station is difficult to access, does not support the required plug system, is defective or does not exist at all, this would lead to time being wasted. A function like the new e-Station Guide can prevent this from happening.
Electric vehicles can very accurately evaluate all of the relevant parameters of a charging station and make the results accessible to other Volkswagen customers via the cloud. In this process, it is important to reliably evaluate the information on each station based on a representative sample of data sets. If sufficient information exists on the charging station, it can be considered validated. This also applies to other POIs. Over the long term, this will significantly improve the quality of the digital street maps.
Information from charge management, the drivetrain and steering system are evaluated and compared to local information from the navigation system. Special algorithms are used to evaluate steering movements and the drive system to rate the accessibility of a charging station. If a vehicle would need to perform difficult maneuvers before charging, this information can be combined with the location of the charge plug on the car (front, rear, left or right), and a conclusion can be reached as to whether this type of charge station would be difficult to access for a specific vehicle. On the other hand, accessibility is considered good if a car can maneuver to a stop with minimal steering movements and gear shifts.
Meanwhile, battery management can acquire important information on the actual charging process. It can accurately log whether the charging power listed for the station is actually available. It is also possible to evaluate the charging power curve over a specific period of time in order to determine whether irregularities occur in the amount of charging power it supplies. And finally, e-Station Guide can be used to communicate which plugs are compatible and which payment cards are accepted.
Smartphone and smart watch as the car key. Today, the e-Remote app can already be used in the e-Golf to access data and perform functions such as starting, heating and cooling, or battery charging. Volkswagen is now introducing another app in the e-Golf: the Digital Key. A smartphone can be used to lock or unlock the e-Golf (separately for the rear hatch), open or close all windows, and start or stop the engine. Moreover, not only can all of this be done with a smartphone, but also with a smart watch. In addition, the Digital Key can also be transferred to other smartphones and smartwatches. In this way, the app makes it possible to have third parties unload the car, for instance, or perform maintenance without having to have the real car key in their hands. Afterwards, the temporary access to the car can simply be deactivated.
e-Golf Trained Parking
Volkswagen has introduced three generations of Park Assist technology, with the first in 2007 and the most recent presented in 2014 in Europe. After it is activated by the pressing the Park Assist button, the driver only needs to control the accelerator pedal, brakes and gear shifting (including the clutch on a manual transmission), while Park Assist automatically guides the car into the space. The system autonomously recognizes the type of parking space and initiates the relevant maneuver; the driver is simultaneously informed and given instructions via the multifunction display. The driver can use the activation button for Park Assist to manually select the specific desired parking space from the automatically detected parking spaces.
Trained Parking. Volkswagen is now debuting a vehicle that semi-automatically executes a frequently recurring parking process—including the approach. This future generation of Park Assist is still in development. In operation, the driver parks at his or her parking space or in the garage and models a parking maneuver. The system saves this maneuver. As soon as the car drives into the surroundings of the trained parking space it offers the driver its assistance and the system can drive to the saved parking location. Here, the car utilizes sensors from the MQB (modular transverse matrix) components set that is already being used in production cars today.
It will be possible to combine this functional flow with another feature that was developed at the same time: remote controlled parking. Here, the driver can exit the car on the way to the trained destination parking space and have the car drive into the space semi-automatically while the monitoring the process via remote control or smartphone. This even enables an automatic exit from a parking space on the trained path.
Automatic inductive charging. As noted in the section on the e-Golf Intelligent Charge, automated parking will also make it very easy to perform inductive charging. The driver can use a smartphone app as an alternative. In this case, the car is essentially remote controlled. During the entire automated positioning process, all the driver needs to do is press a soft key. As soon as the e-Golf is positioned above the charging plate, the system automatically initiates communication between the car and the system, and the energy transfer begins.
Golf R Touch
At the end of the past century, Volkswagen said, it was already evident that the density of information in the car would grow exponentially. In this context, a comprehensive user operation strategy had to be developed which would not overload the driver, while providing more entertainment than before from media libraries, news, and communication.
Operation of even highly complex infotainment devices and their menus would therefore have to be clearly organized and remain easy to understand while still projecting an extremely high-quality image. To achieve this goal, Volkswagen brought together an interdisciplinary team of designers and experts specializing in ergonomics and electronics to develop systems with direct interaction. Consequently, Volkswagen has preferred the touchscreen for years.
Switch-free operation. The Golf R Touch development team pursued the goal of producing an interior and infotainment concept that would fulfill seemingly contradictory requirements. Despite continually growing complexity and numbers of functions, this concept was intended to reduce driver distractions while attaining maximum personalization and intuitive operation in the car.
Volkswagen created a vehicle in which nearly all controls are implemented via touchscreens and touchpads—a nearly switch-free cockpit. The Golf R Touch is equipped with three displays: the 12.8-inch infotainment system touchscreen with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,700 pixels; an 8.0-inch Control Center screen with touch feedback located beneath it for vehicle climate control and media functions (resolution: 800 x 480 pixels); and a 12.3-inch Active Info Display (digitalized instruments) with a resolution of 1,920 x 720 pixels.
A highlight in the Golf R Touch is its new control interface. As an example, when a hand approaches the roof module, the interface shows a symbol on the screen that acknowledges its proximity. When the user touches its surface, a related menu is shown simultaneously on the 12.8-inch infotainment system touchscreen with the various settings such as “open/close the sunroof.”
The key aspect is that important roof functions can now be directly accessed and controlled by a gesture in the space in front of the control panel. For instance, a swiping motion towards the windshield is used to close the sunroof, while a swiping motion away from the windshield opens it.
Seat adjustment operates equally intelligently. As soon as a person’s hand moves laterally at the driver’s seat or front passenger’s seat, the proximity detection system for the seat controls recognizes this. On the large touchscreen, helpful tips and information on user control are now displayed. Naturally, the seats can be fully controlled via the touchscreen.
Controls include touch slider. “Gesture control” is integrated into the operation of the 12.8-inch main touchscreen on the center console. In addition, the system has high-resolution proximity sensors, similar to the sensors already being used in the Golf and other models today. Beneath the infotainment display there is a touch slider which replaces the classic rotary knob control. The slider, which is equipped with a guide rail for the finger plus LED illumination and proximity sensors, is used to intuitively and precisely adjust such settings as the volume of the sound system.
The slider can recognize the number of fingers being used. When one finger is used, the audio volume is adjusted; two fingers adjust the navigation sound; and three fingers change the telephone volume. In addition, the color scheme of the ambient lighting and the infotainment unit and bass, treble, balance and fader adjustment are also set by slider.
Touchscreen gesture control. Three dimensional control of gestures in the interior space is made possible by a 3D camera mounted in the roof module. A person logs onto the system by spreading the fingers of a hand, preventing unintentional activation of a function with a hand movement.
A control is selected using the index finger, by moving it in the air. A function is confirmed by a virtual button push with the index finger. The gesture input is ended by closing the fingers of the hand.
Touchscreen personalization. The display itself can be personalized. As with a smartphone or a tablet, for instance, photos or graphics may be integrated as backgrounds in an instant, and various windows with contents such as "weather" or "media library" (also graphically personalized) are laid out on the screen.
The individual window tiles can be moved or changed in size by touch. If a navigation map is active in the background, for instance, it automatically adapts to the new layout. The car itself can also be represented in 3D (interior or exterior, open or closed, lights on or off, windows open or closed), and it can be rotated by touch and gestures. The Information menu provides the live status of the vehicle and explanatory animations, if necessary.
Personalized ambient lighting. The dominant color of the display lighting (the HMI decor color) and the ambient lighting can be adjusted via the touch slider. Also embedded in this color staging is opening/start-up and parking/closing of the Golf R Touch: when the car is opened, the interior comes to life with the entire cockpit and ambient lighting; when the car is parked it goes into the standby mode. The ambient lighting has a color depth of 24 bits, enabling a representation of 16.7 million colors.
Personalized instrumentation. The screen of the 12.3-inch Active Info Display, which replaces the traditional gauge cluster, can also be customized, because all of the instruments and indicators are generated digitally. Internally, the developers distinguish between the “small stage” and the “large stage”.
Depending on the configuration, the “small stage” might contain the tachometer on the left (with gear indicator in the middle and engine temperature at bottom), a speedometer with a digitally generated analog dial on the right (with digital display at its center and fuel gage at bottom) and a multifunction display between them with all conceivable menus such as traffic messages or navigation instructions. Below this display, the odometer, trip odometer and clock are permanently shown in one place.
On the “large stage”, the multifunction display handles such tasks as map display for the navigation system. On the left, instead of the tachometer, the display might show messages about traffic or information from the onboard computer (such as fuel economy and engine temperature). On the right, instead of the speedometer there might be a cover (with artist and song) from the media library as well as the date and outdoor temperature. In this case, the gear indicator at the lower left and the vehicle speed plus fuel gauge at the lower right are always displayed.
Control Center. Located beneath the 12.8-inch main screen is the 8.0-inch Control Center that takes care of the HVAC, media library and vehicle functions. While hard keys are usually used to operate vehicle and climate control functions, touchpads are used in this case. They give touch feedback via special actuators that allow the transitions from one touch button to another on the display to another to be felt. Using a special sensor, the Control Center can even measure the force of the user’s control action, permitting functionality via pressure, just like mechanical buttons. This reduces driver distractions significantly.
At CES, Volkswagen is also showing the maximum networking potential of the car in the form of the Connected Golf. This e-Golf, which will be equipped with the latest generation (MIB II) infotainment system, incorporates a range of apps, smartphones and tablets via its progressive interface management system. With online-based functionality, its various features and applications will be organized into several clusters. All of these clusters are implemented in the Connected Golf.
Volkswagen uses App-Connect to integrate the majority of smartphone operating systems in models such as the Golf. The three underlying software interfaces of App-Connect are the initial Mirror Link (2014), and now Android Auto (Google) and CarPlay (Apple).
With MirrorLink, specially designed apps can be used in motion to avoid distracting the driver. This is done intuitively: the user simply connects the smartphone to the car and then uses the app over the infotainment system display.
MirrorLink uses the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) industry standard; the smartphone apps are mirrored on the car’s touchscreen, and their operation is networked to the infotainment system. Since the smartphone apps are always up-to-date, MirrorLink does not become obsolete. Volkswagen apps available under MirrorLink are: My Guide (suggested destinations en route); Think Blue. Trainer (assisting the driver in efficient and eco-friendly driving); Shared Audio (streaming songs from a shared play list); and Sound Journey (converting every route segment into a song that is composed based on vehicle data and a music genre). These apps will be available for all App-Connect technologies in the US.
In the future, MirrorLink features will not only be extended with new Volkswagen apps but also with apps from external project partners. Already available today are Glympse, Aupeo!, miRoamer and Parkopedia.
Volkswagen first introduced MirrorLink with the launch of the Polo in 2014. Volkswagen will be extending the range of on-board smartphone platforms by adding systems from Car Play and Android Auto. In the same way as MirrorLink, they are used to display and operate apps over the infotainment system’s touchscreen.
CarPlay is integrated in the Connected Golf at CES. It lets everyone with an iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus use numerous smartphone apps over the infotainment system. CarPlay feeds iPhone apps—Telephone, News, Maps and Music—into the infotainment system via a USB interface. The apps in the Volkswagen are controlled either over the touchscreen or by voice control via Siri.
Android Auto will be available starting in 2015, using a USB connection as the interface. The numerous apps that can be incorporated via Android Auto include classics such as Google Maps, Google Play, WhatsApp and Spotify. Also included: SoundCloud, Text Me!, textPlus, Sticher Radio, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Pocket Casts, Joyride Podcast, Kik Messenger, MLB.com, NPR OneTM, Songza and Umano. Many apps under Android Auto can be operated either by touchscreen operation or by Google Voice control through the multifunction steering wheel.
The various services and applications are organized into clusters including several for the US market such as: e-Remote, Safe & Secure and App-Connect.
Intelligent networking and navigation. Beyond the applications of Volkswagen Car-Net, Media Control also allows for integration of tablets and smart watches into the infotainment system of the Connected Golf. Media Control uses a special app that creates a rear seat entertainment system. Travel Link is also installed in the Connected Golf. In the US, the system also turns the radio into an information center by accessing and displaying satellite broadcasting data such as weather information and sports results. Regular Routes is the name of a function by which the navigation system automatically detects traffic disruptions on the daily commute, for instance. In such cases it autonomously suggests an alternative route that is not congested. All of these innovations being shown in the Connected Golf at CES are already in production or will soon be introduced.
Safe & Secure. Services in the Safe & Secure Car-Net cluster let Volkswagen drivers optimize their personal safety. An SOS button and a road service button, for example, can be used to immediately request help. In addition, important information about the car can be accessed.
The overall concept is implemented by a control unit integrated in the vehicle. Functions include: Personal Emergency Call; Road Service Call; Vehicle Localization; Virtual Fence; Speed Alarm; Vehicle Status Report; Service Scheduling; Help during Destination Search; Display of Vehicle Status; Horn and Flash (to find vehicle); Unlock Doors.
e-Remote/e-Remote SmartTV. These apps are Volkswagen Car-Net solutions that have already been implemented in the e-Remote cluster and were specially developed for use in electric and plug-in hybrid models such as the e-up! and Golf GTE that are sold in Europe and the e-Golf that is now on sale in the US.
e-Remote lets users adjust settings and make inquiries via smartphone. At CES, Volkswagen is also showing that it will also be possible to control e-Remote by smart watches such as the Samsung Gear S. Also planned is an application that can be called up via a television (SmartTV). Specifically, the app contains the following functions: programing departure time; climate control; battery charging; vehicle data queries; vehicle status queries. Travel Link. Volkswagen utilizes all data sources for maximum networking.
Along with online connections and terrestrial and digital radio reception, VW offers satellite radio reception for its vehicles in the US in cooperation with SiriusXM via Travel Link. This enables additional information to be implemented such as traffic; maps; weather information; ski information; sports; movie listings; fuel prices.
Media Control rear-seat entertainment via tablet and smart watch. This lets you conveniently control all main functions via a tablet, even from the rear seats. It is now no longer necessary to buy expensive hardware, since rear-seat passengers can simply connect their tablets to the infotainment system via the Wi-Fi hotspot and can control the radio, all media sources (e.g. USB, CD or DVD, hard drive, online song search), and the navigation system.
The media menu shows information such as the artist, album name and cover. In the radio, it is possible to modify station selection from station icons and lists, the station search and display of RBDS information as well as frequencies. In the navigation menu, along with standard functions, it is also possible to make a Google address search on the Internet then send it as a destination input. In addition, rear-seat passengers are able to send calendar events and address book entries to the infotainment system as navigation destinations.
The tablet can be used to select from the available audio sources, to access the media library and to control basic operating functions such as start, stop, pause, forward and back. To optimize operating convenience, and to make it easy to watch movies, Volkswagen offers a device-specific tablet bracket as an accessory that also supplies power to the device. One innovation that Volkswagen is showing at CES is how, in the future, it will be possible to use a smart watch to control the infotainment system. This means that Volkswagen drivers will essentially carry their media libraries on their wrists.
Navigation that thinks ahead. Navigation systems provide detailed information on the traffic situation, warn the driver of traffic jams and suggest alternative routes. On many daily drives, however, the navigation system is not even used, simply because the routes are so familiar. Therefore, Volkswagen will now be extending its systems to include Regular Routes functionality.
Here, the navigation system memorizes regularly driven routes and scans them for traffic problems, even when navigation is inactive. If there is congestion, a detour is recommended.
Before heading out, the driver can choose to have regularly driven routes automatically recommended. This simplifies destination input considerably. Regular Routes is also networked with the rest of the vehicle electronics. For instance, the car uses information about the predicted route to clean the diesel particulate filter or to integrate information about descents and inclines as well as acceleration and braking into the operating and charging strategy of plug-in hybrid models.
Parking Guide finds a parking space in a public area more often than not, based on calculations from the familiar digital street maps that are used in all navigation devices and on the servers of Internet services. With Parking Guide, the information shown on such a digital map is extended to include potential parking spaces along the streets. The data is acquired: with the help of ultrasonic sensors which are installed in every vehicle with a parking assistant.
While driving past parking spaces in areas that have been mapped accordingly, it recognizes whether parking spaces are available. Each individual car computes the occupation rate of a parking area where it is located, and it transmits the data online to what is known a backend computing center. There, the crowd sourced information from many vehicles is collected anonymously, and converted into a digital pattern. This yields a digital map which provides information on parking area occupation rates according to the street section and time of day.
People who use Parking Guide get information on parking areas for which the probability is high that it has available parking spaces (specific parking spaces are not shown). In addition, parking routes can be calculated for driving along the streets with the highest parking availability. While routes are generally calculated according to criteria such as fastest or shortest, the Parking Guide considers community data that is used to customize the navigation process.