Travelling in the Shell

IAV Coquille: a safe, comfortable space for personalized autonomous mobility

Autonomous driving changes everything, including car interiors. IAV is therefore radically redesigning the passenger compartment and presented its “IAV Coquille” at the CES 2019. The seat concept embodies a new way of combining comfort and safety. In future, it could also redefine individual mobility.

Up to now, there has been a strict division between driver and passengers in the car: one drives, the others are passengers. Autonomous driving will make a fundamental change here, putting everyone in the same role as vehicle occupants. The passenger compartment in future will therefore look completely different and turn increasingly into a mobile living space and workplace, offering radical new possibilities for designers, who now have far greater scope for positioning the seats and for completely rethinking the whole “seat” concept.

At the CES 2019 in Las Vegas, IAV presented its demonstrator “IAV Coquille” as the result of its ideas and thoughts. The name comes from the French word for “shell”, which is also the best way of summarizing the concept: today’s car seat will become an individual space in the passenger compartment. It gives the passenger an opportunity to withdraw, or alternatively to communicate with the other passengers. A tablet computer even lets the passenger briefly become the driver again if, for example, the autonomous vehicle requests driver intervention.

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Curved screen for films and augmented reality

Comfort and entertainment are integrated in the concept. It all begins already on getting into the vehicle: the seat adjusts to upright position and turns toward the point of entry. When the passengers have taken their seat and adjusted their preferred positions, the entertainment program begins after authentication based on face detection. A telescopic, curved screen just in front of the face shows films or uses augmented reality to provide information about the surroundings passing by. The sound system guarantees optimum hearing pleasure, permits conversations without interference or implements electronic noise cancelling for a quiet journey. The ambient light can be adjusted just as individually as the air-conditioning. If the passenger starts feeling tired, he simply presses a button to recline the seat and sleep. The fitted sensors register the occupant’s mood and adjust the ambient light, air-conditioning and music automatically. In other words, the IAV Coquille is an island of well-being. The individual configuration can be entered manually or retrieved automatically from a saved profile using AI-based personal recognition. The IAV Coquille therefore achieves a high level of comfort.

Passenger safety is an important point. “Safety is paramount, no matter how fast the vehicle is moving and what the passengers are doing during the journey,” says Uwe Reske, Technical Consultant for Body & Lightweight Design at IAV. “This is why development of the IAV Coquille has focused on integral safety right from the start”. There are two components involved. In addition to a belt system, seven airbags protect the knees, the pelvis, the thorax and the head, thus providing passive safety. In the event of a crash, the head airbag slips instantly over the head so that the passenger’s face does not impact on the screen. IAV has a patent pending. The second component gives the best possible guarantee for active safety. If a crash cannot be avoided, the IAV Coquille automatically returns to an upright position that optimizes the passenger’s chances of survival. “This is particularly important when the seat is reclined”, says Jörg Wohlenberg, Senior Project Leader for Body Project Management at IAV. “After all, there is a risk of severe internal injuries in the event of a crash when the passenger is recumbent.” The IAV engineers are quite sure that the combination of upgraded belt system and small local airbags gives the passengers better protection in the IAV Coquille than in a simply upgraded seat.

CES 2019: IAV Coquille is the center of attraction

Simulations indicate that the concept fulfils the expectations of its developers. At the CES 2019 in Las Vegas, a first original-sized model was the center of attraction. Visitors could take a look at the functional model in a virtual reality showroom and experience the IAV Coquille right up close as seen by the user. A subsequent survey among those who tested the seat provided important feedback for further development of the concept.

Meanwhile the team is already working on IAV Coquille 2.0 and on redefining individual mobility. The basic idea entails completely detaching the drive system and the vehicle interior. When the need arises, the IAV Coquilles can be set on completely different drive systems. Possibilities here include an electric undercarriage for an individual trip into town, on a convertible for a cozy run out to the countryside for two or in a bus where passengers can enjoy their own personal feel-good space on a long journey. The IAV Coquilles could also take off, as cabins in velocopters or cable car systems for big cities. Future journeys could even look like this: passengers go to bed in their IAV Coquille and are taken automatically to their destination by the various means of transport, without being aware of the transfers en route.

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