Last decade has seen tremendous growth in the automotive domain, to be specific- innovations in making it safer for passengers as well as pedestrians and enhanced HMI. This article in specific sheds light on HMI in car interior specifically infotainment and digital cockpit powered by android OS.
Penetration of smartphones among consumers is driving the tech companies to share their expertise and learnings into the automotive industry. Google’s android has ventured into the cars and is here to stay, something which started off just as a mirroring application for smartphone playback is now in every aspect of modern car HMI. Android auto is an open source embedded operating system specifically designed for cars. Users can use this android auto operating system as base to create a proprietary operating system for various automotive interior systems such as infotainment, digital instrument cluster and rear seat entertainment.
Various features like navigation, google voice assistant and more with play store support users will be able to download all the necessary apps that are designed specific for android auto with ultimate goal of reducing distraction using legacy systems.
Figure: Android Automotive System Architecture
Advantage of using Android OS for automotive interior or cockpit
Google provides basic open source embedded android OS for developers (automotive OEMs and Tier 1s), who can then take it up a notch by integrating various features and multiple displays with specific user interface. Android automotive comes with basic features like navigation with ability to support third party applications.
- Being a cost sensitive market OEMs can rely on this bare embedded OS and develop their custom user interface without investing heavily on developing an OS from scratch.
- With a wide developer network android automotive will be able to cater to all customer needs thanks to the sheer number of apps that are dedicated for android automotive.
As discussed, being a bare embedded OS, android is used in various applications inside a vehicle, some of which are-
Infotainment or head unit is the primary screen inside a car with a host of information displayed. Android auto enables features like video playback, music streaming, navigation, connected car features (enabled with help of an e-sim) and more.
- Driver Monitoring solution
A single camera-based system which monitors driver behaviour for any fatigue is developed using android automotive OS. Driver monitoring systems will be mandated by vehicle safety regulatory bodies like NCAP, creating a new wave of adoption of android automotive
- Rear seat entertainment
Passengers seated in the back of a car are also equipped with a dedicated screen with music and video playback facility, android automotive is used here with its ability to stream audio and video files over Bluetooth and USB
- Digital instrument cluster
These replacements of traditional two dial instrument clusters are wide screen displays with ability to not only display speed but also navigation and other vehicle telemetry. Android automotive with its versatility is the most preferred OS for this application.
Key Challenge with Android Automotive
Android is known for its long boot up time when loaded with various applications. This however is not acceptable in a car, where HMI depends on quick boot up time of all the android based systems. This challenge of boot up time is addressed by a technique called fast boot (snapshot boot up time).
Android automotive which started off by just being a mirroring application is now well equipped to cater to wider applications in a car. With applications such as HUD, and digital instrument cluster being available in mass market cars, android auto is all set to be the winner in automotive operating systems for enhanced HMI.
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