After showing the interior of the next-generation Volvo XC90 last week, Volvo has now released details of the in-car control system that will be used on the seven-seat SUV, which will be unveiled in full in August. The company claims the new system is easier to use than traditional controls and allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road more of the time.
The system replaces the usual array of buttons with a large, tablet-esque portrait touchscreen on the centre console, a head-up display and steering wheel controls, and will also make use of “state-of-the-art” voice control.
To help drivers get to grips with this new and doubtlessly unfamiliar way of controlling the car’s functions, the new user interface, part of the Sensus family of infotainment systems, incorporates the latest touchscreen hardware and software to help drivers understand the controls and use them instinctively.
“Using the screen is so logical that it will become part of your muscle memory very quickly,” said Volvo senior vice president of research and development Dr Peter Mertens. “Information, navigation and media are high up and easy to check. The phone controls, application icons and climate controls are located low and are comfortable to reach and touch.”
The touchscreen layout features a stack of flexible tiles, with navigation on top, followed by media and telephone. There is a thin notification band on top, and climate controls on the bottom. When tapped, a tile expands and shows extended functionality, but the others are still visible and accessible, negating the need for a main menu or to flip through separate menus to operate different functions.
“The adaptive digital instrument cluster and the head-up display make sure that the most relevant information is always available where the driver needs it,” said senior vice president of design Thomas Ingenlath.
The next XC90 will offer a suite of connected services, such as an Ericsson-based cloud solution and a navigation system by the Nokia-owned mapping company HERE, which can remotely update content. Also on offer are a number of cloud-based applications which vary depending on the market, including Internet radio, music streaming and the world’s first integrated Park-and-Pay application.
“The XC90 will not only tell you when it’s time to visit the garage but also suggest an appointment for you at your Volvo dealership,” said vice president of electrics/electronics & e-propulsion engineering Dr Thomas M. Müller. “The Connected Service Booking application is the first step in making the dealer workshop fully integrated into the connected eco-system.”
Also included for the first time on a Volvo is Apple CarPlay, a separate user interface that gives drivers direct access to their iPhone’s calls, messages, music and navigation.