McLaren and Partners Showcase New Digital Cockpit

System puts aerospace technology behind the wheel.

by on Jan.07, 2015

The McLaren digital cockpit concept.

How do you convey all the information a driver needs when they’re blasting around a track at 150 miles an hour? That’s a challenge that McLaren is trying to address with a concept vehicle that showcases a new digital cockpit it could integrate into future supercar designs.

Based on a production McLaren 650S Spider, the system was developed as part of a partnership with Japanese electronics firm JVCKenwood.

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The prototype integrates a variety of different systems that can both gather and display a variety of critical “mission” data, as well as controlling the infotainment systems an owner might use off the track – something dubbed Caroptronics.

The system includes not only touchscreen monitors but head-up displays and other projection systems, as well as digital mirrors. All the displays are centered around the steering wheel and traditional instrument cluster to minimize the amount a driver’s eyes and hands might have to wander.

The Caroptronics system was installed in this modified McLaren 650S Spider.

Making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show, the display technology itself is called i-ADAS, and features a reconfigurable instrument cluster that can present a wide range of information, more in line with what pilots now see in the latest aerospace “glass” displays.

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Immediately above that high-tech gauge cluster, three video screens provide high-definition images that replace conventional rear and sideview mirrors. An additional, tablet-sized display, in a vertical orientation, sits to the side of the driver and can, for example, provide a large rendering of a track, following the vehicle’s progress in real time.

Additional information, including RPMs and shift lights, pops up on the prototype McLaren’s head-up display, or HUD screen.

The goal is to maximize the information available while minimizing distraction and overload.

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For the moment, McLaren and its partners aren’t saying whether they have plans for production, but it seems highly likely the Caroptronics system will influence future products from the British maker.

Automakers, in general, have been migrating to more advanced electronic gauges and instruments, and reconfigurable displays have become commonplace on higher-end vehicles and sports cars, such as the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

The Tesla Model S uses a laptop-sized touchscreen to operate most vehicle functions, an approach the upcoming Detroit Electric SP:01 will follow.

A number of other advanced display systems are on display at this year’s CES. Volkswagen’s Golf R Touch actually incorporates a touch-less system that can operate controls by reading a motorist’s hand gestures.

(VW Golf R Touch concept actually uses touch-less gesture controls. Click Here for a closer look.)

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept can replace the sites passengers might see out the window with digital “scenery.”

Meanwhile, Jaguar is working on a prototype that would project a phantom car that a motorist would follow, rather than having to interpret conventional arrows signaling when to make a turn.

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One Response to “McLaren and Partners Showcase New Digital Cockpit”

  1. Jorge says:

    It sure sounds to me like all of these displays and information would be extremely distracting and provide information overload to anyone who actually used all of them – perhaps short of a fighter pilot of F1 pilot. This sure doesn’t sound like a rationale design for the driving public who typically can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time…

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