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[Foto: Surf & Curve]

CES 2019: BCS and fka are presenting an update of the Surf&Curve concept and bringing the revolutionary JETDRIVE drivestick to life.

At the CES 2019 in Las Vegas, fka, together with its partner BCS Automotive Interface Solutions, will present an update of the revolutionary operating concepts in the interactive Surf & Curve driving simulator.

The updated Surf&Curve concept features new and updated technologies for a holistic vehicle concept that puts the user at the centre of developments. Further developments include an optimized HMI concept, an improved PERSICOPE image quality with head tracking and an integrated bird view.

The basis for these further developments are fka's scientific usability studies with representative user groups not only on test tracks, but also in the static and highly dynamic driving simulator.

With the support of fka, BCS has succeeded in integrating the drivesticks already presented at CES 2018, which replace the conventional steering wheel, into test vehicles. The drivestick control of the BCS test vehicles, called JETDRIVE, is based on a steer-by-wire system and enables intuitive, very safe and convenient control of the vehicle. The sticks provide an active feedback of the wheel position and enable the activation of important functions such as turn signals, gear selection or horn. The unique Drivestick control can be experienced live on a CES test site.

Video from CES

Surf & Curve: Revolutionary HMI concepts

Together with Body Control Systems we developed our revolutionary HMI concept “Surf & Curve” which takes a look into the future and offers revolutionary control concepts that not only open up completely new possibilities for the interaction between driver and vehicle during manual driving, but also provide answers to the challenges of automated driving. The jointly developed Surf & Curve mock-up was now presented at the CES 2018. Behind all the showcased HMI concepts are already pre-developed solutions that are to be put on the road as prototypes. The development of the entire project has always focused on the user. Therefore, not only expert studies but also usability studies with representative user groups were carried out in the static driving simulator, in the highly dynamic driving simulator and on the test track. In this way, iterative development was ensured along the users' needs and great importance was attached to intuitive, unambiguous and safe operation.

Among other things, the CES 2018 presented a Drive Stick with an innovative touch mouse hover concept, a Periscope as a mirror replacement system with a head position-dependent display, a Comfort Control Panel as the central operating element for seating and climate comfort, an innovative climate actuator with infrared radiator and pelleting elements, the active Turning Seat as a connecting element between manual and automated driving, an infrared sensor-based system for determining the driver's position, comfort automation and physiological monitoring, an entertainment system that can be operated by touch and is available depending on the situation, and the Guidance Display as a further development of a conventional instrument cluster.

A unique feature of the Surf & Curve project is the large number of operating concepts that are integrated in a mock-up and made tangible by the consistent integration of actuators and driving simulation. Behind every function or interaction option offered, there is an actual system behavior that not only makes the operating concept clear to the driver, but also lets him or her experience its advantages directly.

Concept video

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES]

[Foto: PConcept vehicle at CES]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES 2019]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES 2019]

[Foto: Concept vehicle at CES 2019]

[Foto: Drivestick]


The drive sticks enable torque based steering. This means that the steering angle is not determined by a rotation or position, as with the conventional steering wheel, but by torque applied by the driver. Since the human being can apply a wide range of force levels with his hands and control them very sensitively, the Drivesticks allow the positioning of large steering angles of up to 90° with comparatively small movements. This not only enables a completely new driving experience, but also significantly improved ergonomics. The integration of the Drivesticks into the seat armrests and the elimination of the steering wheel results in new degrees of freedom for interior design. In addition, each drive stick is equipped with an integrated OLED display, which can be used to create various operating options. The position of the thumb resting on the display is visualized on the guidance display. This allows the driver to intuitively find the controls without having to look at the drive sticks. If the driver wants to select a function, he can press the display mounted in the drive stick like a haptic button and thus trigger the operation in a defined way. These and other control elements allow various functions to be operated safely via the drive stick and, at the same time, they are ergonomically much easier accessible in any situation.


The Periscope is a mirror replacement system that combines the information from conventional side and rear view mirrors in one display. This allocates the driver with all relevant information at one glance. At the same time, the driver's cognitive load is also reduced, since he no longer has to process the separate representation of the side mirrors and the rearview mirror using a mental model in order to gain an overall overview of the rearward traffic situation. By positioning the cameras appropriately and displaying a large field of view in the periscope, blind angles are a thing of the past.

In addition, the head position-dependent display enables intuitive interaction with the Periscope. If the driver's head position changes, the displayed image also changes, analogous to the use of a conventional mirror. In this way, the maximum information can be made available at a glance when magnification is pleasant.

Comfort Control Panel & Climate Actuators

The Comfort Control Panel (CCP) combines the operation of all comfort functions in one display. In the Surf & Curve mode, for example, the CCP can be used to adjust both seating comfort and air conditioning. The CCP combines the advantages of a conventional touch display with the advantages of a haptic rotary actuator that is firmly mounted on the CCP. The CCP has been arranged in the mock-up in such a way that it can be easily reached both during the manual ride and during the automated ride, during which the turning seat is turned towards the entertainment system.

With the rotary adjuster, the global temperature can be adjusted while driving without the driver having to look at the CCP. In addition, an individual temperature distribution along the head, upper body, legs and feet can be adjusted by touch. Once the user has set his preferences, climate automation takes over the control of the individual climate actuators based on the information from the infrared sensor, without the driver having to readjust them during the journey.

In order to experience these functions in Surf & Curve Mock-up, innovative climate actuators were used, which enable not only individual but also energy-efficient air conditioning. Among other things, a headrest cooled with pellet elements and an infrared radiator were installed as examples.

The CCP also allows the backrest and headrest to be moved to the desired position by touch. Since in the Surf & Curve Mock-up the Turning Seat can only rotate, but is not adjustable in longitudinal direction, the pedals can also be adjusted lengthwise via the CCP to allow users of different body sizes to ride comfortably.

Turning Seat

The Turning Seat facilitates getting in and out of the vehicle by allowing the driver to turn freely towards the door and supporting the driver with a light moment of rotation. If the driver wants to drive manually, the Turning Seat automatically moves into the driving position and is locked there.

During the automated driving of the SAE Level 3, the driver can temporarily turn cognitively away from the driving task. The Turning Seat not only makes it easier for the driver mentally but also physically. During the automated ride, the driver can turn in the direction of his "living room" and devote himself to the entertainment system of the Surf & Curve mock-up.

If the situation requires it, the driver is physically and above all mentally turned back to the driving task. The driver's attention is drawn back to the driving task by a moment applied to the seat. Once the Turning Seat is in driving position again, the driver can take over manual control of the vehicle. The Turning Seat thus supports the driver during take-over requests and ensures an intuitive and clear separation between automated and manual driving.

Infrared sensor based driver monitoring

In cooperation with LifeTAix GmbH, also based in Aachen, Germany, we are developing systems for infrared sensor-based driver monitoring. Infrared sensors provide several types of information that can be used in the automotive industry for multiple applications. First of all, tracking algorithms can be used to determine the position and posture of the driver and occupants. In Surf & Curve Mock-up, the head position is used for the display in the periscope. In addition, the determination of the position and posture of the occupants will in future enable adaptive use of the safety systems.

Infrared sensors can also be used to obtain information on the thermal condition of the occupants. For example, it is possible to measure the temperature of the skin of the face and the clothing, which can be a good index of the type of clothing. Accordingly, an energy-efficient and comfortable type of air conditioning can be selected and automatically controlled over time.

In addition, infrared sensors can also be used to measure physiological data of the driver, such as breathing rate. The cooling of the nostrils caused by convection is monitored with infrared sensors. In the future, physiological driver data can be used, for example, to prepare the driver for the take-over request or for safety systems.

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