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Technology Newsmaker Q&A James Schwyn, Valeo North America (part 2)

Friday, February 15, 2019 - 09:00
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Valeo North America recently announced the release of their Smart Cocoon platform, a personalization system that can adjust the climate of the vehicle interior based on the driver’s heart rate, respiration and other biometrics. It can even set temperatures for individual passengers. Valeo CTO Jim Schwyn talked to Aftermarket Business World about the solution and how it relates to other emerging technologies in smart vehicles.

(See Schwyn's earlier discussion about Apollo, the open autonomous driving platform, Apollo.)

Q. What is the premise of the Smart Cocoon?
Smart cocoon is the continuation of the trend to hyper-personalization of the driving experience. Valeo has been a world leader in thermal systems going back many years. As technology evolves, this is allowing us to move to a driving experience that is much more personalized and customized for the occupants of the cabin. The driver can have a thermal environment adapted to their needs, and passengers have an environment adapted to their needs, which ensures alertness and comfort.

We’re incorporating sensing devices in the car that are able to detect the physiological state of the driver and passenger. What is temperature of their face, or their respiration and heart rate? Are they dressed warmly or coolly? We can understand how everyone in the car is put together from a biometric standpoint, and the system can determine if an individual needs more heat or more cooling.

We can also use different devices to provide heating solutions. Instead of just the blower motor, we can use panels around the passengers to provide radiant heat or cooling. We can even do things with interior lighting to provide the perception that the car is warmer or cooler.

Q. How is this being incorporated into vehicles?
We’re developing these solutions with all of the major global OEMS. We’re working with them to provide different thermal alternatives, and working with new suppliers. Air quality sensors and some internal temperature monitors are working their way into vehicles. They are smaller and more efficient, which allows you to have more sensors around the vehicle. There are some monitoring cameras in vehicles for detecting if the driver is awake or distracted, and we can incorporate those along with infrared imaging.

Q. There’s also an artificial intelligence element to this as well. How will that work?
In the simplest terms, what we want to do is use machine learning to help identify optimized settings. You have sensors that will detect respiration, body temperature, environment, and they are all feeding data to a machine learning algorithm. Based on that feedback, the system can learn when the settings are in the right place and adjust to improve comfort.

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