Interview with NIO – Digital Cockpit

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Qiyan Wang

We had a great e-chat with JoAnn Yamani who arranged our questions through to her colleagues Qiyan Wang and Tao Liang (Director of Machine Learning and Human Machine Interface), who answered some really important questions about the new digital cockpit technology, which is one of the key factors in today’s EV industry. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!

We are truly excited to see how NIO goes forward. These are promising times in the EV industry while the technology is advancing rapidly. We expect NIO to be at the forefront of EV’s.

What is a digital cockpit?

Digital Cockpit is a forward-looking technology feature set that encompasses all the functions your digital life currently enables you to enjoy in your automobile. If you consider what you needed to carry in your handbag or briefcase ten years ago (wallet, phone, MP3 player, camera, portable DVD player, GPS, etc.), those functionalities are now available on your phone—one device. NIO envisions the digital cockpit as the next wave of mobility and innovation; a traveling digital living space.

How are digital cockpits affecting our automotive experience today? How do you see it in five years or so?

At NIO, we imagine more features that will make the use of time spent in the car productive, pleasurable, and even playful. From 2022 to 2025, L4AD (level four autonomous driving) won’t just be a dream. Many OEMs will start their production and delivery of affordable L4 products from 2023 when the final competition of the smart EV begins.

The chauffeur-like experience and the liberation of driving time and space will shift the focus to the interior space. Pivoting the driver seat is just one of many steps that will make the driver cockpit the priority of space experience, comfort, digital experience and NOMI (the first-ever artificial intelligence in an automobile.)

What are your preferred cockpit platforms? What has been the most challenging aspect of implementing it to the EV systems?

NOMI is the world’s first in-car AI system for production vehicles that brings together music, services, software, hardware, and much more, turning your car into a smart, fun, expressive and intuitive friend. It is the first automotive industry product of its kind.

NIO NOMI, digital asistant

NOMI learns our user behavior and builds an experience using the five senses: touch, sight, listening, speaking, and smell. By paying attention to these sensory experiences, a fuller picture of what affects our users, customers, and the ecosystem in which they operate creates a more joyful experience. When we studied artificial intelligence and the behavior of our users while they were driving, we found that the hands and eyes are the most susceptible to distraction, leading to dangerous situations. To build technology that empathizes with this behavior, we took a very close look at the use of voice and hearing and their roles in the behavior of not only our drivers but those other drivers around them.

We are currently working on our next platform, which defines the ultimate product form of smart EVs. This platform provides services, digital touchpoints, and experience beyond cars to shape a joyful lifestyle for our users.

How much is 5G taken into consideration? How do you see the 5G changing the EV future?

Vehicle architecture needs to be considered 5G. In order to take full advantage of 5G, including much higher data transmission throughput and latency, the vehicle networking system and on-car ECUs that process 5G data must be “5G capable” instead of becoming the choking point.

Besides more new and richer user-facing applications, 5G could open up new opportunities to optimize vehicle systems. For example, we could try to move some compute-intensive applications such as AI to the cloud, thanks to the low latency data exchange of 5G. This could speed up AD-L4 development as data has been critical to AD and also V2X that also benefits from 5G could be an essential enabler for AD-L4.

In a 5G environment, online gaming is not limited to a terminal device or game console. It can be up in the cloud and then streamed to occupants in their car with 5G. The car only needs an intuitive interface and immersive audio-visual system to display the high-quality game and VR content in real-time.

With 5G-enabled V2V video communication, users can enjoy immersive video communication via a large screen and an audio-visual system. The 5G enhanced video calls bring a better communication experience than current web-conferencing via cellphone or PC. Because of the stereo system, the call is as real as face-to-face communication.

Nio ES6 electric SUV

Are there any specific criteria when designing/building an EV cockpit compared to a traditional ICE vehicle?

In an ideal world, every car owner has his/her own parking space with a full suite of charging gear and/or convenient access to a public parking lot with a charging point. In addition, the weather is sunny and mild California year-round. 

With L4 technology, autonomous parking is realized. As a result, the car should also support autonomous charging, which represents a worry-free experience in which the car searches for the charging point, connects to the charger, starts and finishes the charging automatically and autonomously. Full autonomous swapping enabled by L4 is also a must.

We want to thank NIO for enlightening us about this future technology. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Daily Roundup straight to your inbox, check out our other articles and interviews on our homepage, or continue the discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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