Jaguar Land Rover develops digital dashboard panels
I believe someone at Jaguar Land Rover is obsessed about Iron Man. No wonder it was JLR who came up with the next-gen heads up display technology which displayed prominent ‘pop-ups’ on the windscreen via augmented reality, resembling the Iron Man mask view. And now it has developed a game-changer, yet again.
With the help of structural electronics, Jaguar Land Rover has managed to develop a technology that allows curved surfaces like dashboards to double up as screens. Adopting Lightweight Electronics in Simplified Architecture (LESA), the technology used in curved TVs and flexible wearables, JLR is the first carmaker in the world to develop such a concept. Using this piece of tech, JLR can now make displays appear on surfaces like wood without the need of a screen.
With the advent of this LESA technology, Jaguar Land Rover will be able to produce and equip these digital body panels with a three-fold benefit plan. First, these interior panels can be used to alter the interior functions. For now, these functions include changing the ambient lighting settings or body/seat controls. Second, it gives designers a lot more freedom to streamline their designs which are currently restricted with mandatory button-housings. Third, it reduces the weight of in-car electronics by up to 60 per cent.
JLR is further hinting towards the possibility of adding solar panels on the cars’ roofs without adding extra system weight to the vehicle, using this LESA technology. This would come as a considerable advantage for all-electric vehicles which are battling their viability over enough-range and charging concerns.
The company seemed pleased to report successful trials of an overhead control panel prototype. The prototype component, manufactured using the LESA technology, achieved a weight reduction of 60 per cent while minimising the part size from 50mm to just 3.5mm. The trials were so successful that JLR was even awarded an Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Award with judges praising it as “the future of electronics in cars”.
Curious to know how JLR manages to execute this? Let me elaborate. Before fabricating a component, JLR’s systems virtually unfold ‘a part’ of that component into its 2D structure using computer-animated drawings (CAD). Then, the systems print the required electronic circuit, which is usually wired into a traditional ECU, onto the flat surface or ‘the part’. Finally, the components are mounted back on before the CAD is folded back into its original 3D structure. Thus, the component is produced. So, the process basically involves embedding the circuits in the middle of the component, virtually, and then fabricating it.
While the applications of this technology seem endless, the primary benefit for the car has to be - weight saving. Modern electronics and buttons had made the car unnecessarily heavy and less efficient. The introduction of LESA will bring about a lightweight yet exceeding prominent step by JLR towards Destination zero - the company’s goal of attaining a zero-emissions future.
Ashutosh Tomar, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Technical Manager, said, “We believe LESA represents the future of vehicle electronics and will enable us to design and manufacture innovative, flexible and customisable cabins for our customers while also reducing weight and cost during production helping us reach Destination Zero.”
Which car interior component would you prefer to have this tech installed in?