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When Driving Becomes the Distraction: Faurecia to Explore Future of Autonomous Driving, Share Research at Connected Car Expo

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Faurecia, one of the world's largest automotive suppliers, will share research on behavioral changes that it believes will impact occupants of autonomous vehicles at the Connected Car Expo during the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Faurecia and affiliated research organizations have identified several important challenges the industry must address to mitigate consumer apprehension to new driving modes:

  • Creating a Confident Occupant Experience – Research data suggests that increased Situation Awareness helps drivers of autonomous vehicles feel confidence and trust in the system. Technologies like Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) warnings can provide important information on what the vehicle is doing when used properly. However, drivers report that they often find the use and interface of these systems complicated and sometimes turn them off, reducing their benefit1. Keeping the driver alert and ready for a transfer of control is also a critical issue that was identified. Providing information in new ways that easily attract attention and effectively increase the driver's Situation Awareness must be explored.
  • Safely Enabling New User Scenarios – The promise of autonomous mobility is primarily enabling new user scenarios while in motion. Reading, working, socializing, and eating are just a few of the potential activities that will create the need for a more flexible interior while preserving safety.
  • Mitigating Motion Sickness – Studies2 have shown that people expect to use passenger time in an autonomous vehicle to do things like read, or use handheld devices, which can contribute to motion sickness for occupants. The factors contributing to motion sickness are known and Faurecia is now in active development around innovations to mitigate or avoid the onset of these symptoms.

Faurecia believes these and other considerations will take an increasingly important role in the future development of autonomous transportation, with more attention placed on what's happening inside the vehicle.                         

Matthew Benson of Faurecia's xWorks innovation center will present research "When Driving Becomes the Distraction: Putting the Occupant Back in the Mobility Conversation" at the Connected Car Expo on November 17.

"As the automotive industry continues its march toward autonomous vehicles, most of its efforts have been focused on creating the technology that will enable auto-pilot functionality," said Rob Huber, Vice President of Innovation for Faurecia. "While this is an essential foundation, Faurecia is prioritizing a parallel development track focused on how we enhance the mobility experience by improving life-on-board, making comfort, customization and connectivity a priority."

At the Connected Car Expo, Faurecia will discuss potential technology approaches to the interior systems of an autonomous vehicle. Faurecia will also demonstrate Active Wellness, a seating system developed to improve the comfort and well-being of vehicle occupants that could also help overcome the potential emotional and biological issues identified in the research that will be discussed at the conference. Active Wellness is the first vehicle seating system that detects a driver's stress levels and other physical responses by measuring heart and breathing patterns through sensors integrated into the seat. Based on these measurements, the system can initiate countermeasures – for example, employing a specific massage therapy or increased seating ventilation – to restore the driver to an improved state of comfort. Ultimately, Active Wellness may reduce stress among connected or autonomous car occupants.

"Active Wellness is one of the ways Faurecia is already pursuing new functionalities and designs in seating and interiors to address emerging issues related to driving connected/autonomous vehicles," said Huber.

Matthew Benson leads Faurecia's Autonomous Experience Initiative.  He is located within Faurecia's Westworks Innovation Center in Holland, Michigan, a cross-functional product & business incubator focusing on strategic innovation and venturing for the automotive industry. Broadly, Matt's work is focused on aligning emerging technologies and business models with opportunities to address the future needs of society and end users.

About Faurecia
Faurecia is one of the world's largest automotive suppliers, with four Business Groups: Automotive Seating, Emissions Control Technologies, Interior Systems and Automotive Exteriors. In 2014, the Group posted sales of $25 billion. As of December 31, 2014, Faurecia employed 99,500 people in 34 countries at 330 sites, including 30 R&D centers. Faurecia is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris stock exchange and trades in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market.

In North America, Faurecia had sales of $6.2 billion in 2014. It employs more than 20,000 people at 48 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

1University of Iowa National Consumer Survey of Driving Safety Technologies

2University of Michigan study: