Electronic switch panels instead of mechanical switches, clear displays instead of analog screens: With its modular driver workplace (mDWP), Continental has brought the digital age to the bus cockpit. In city and intercity buses, the mDWP makes the daily work of bus drivers more ergonomic, more comfortable and safer, fleet operators can operate more flexibly and vehicle manufacturers can stock fewer parts. “Digitalization concepts and thinking in systems are core competencies of Continental,” says Dr. Michael Ruf, Head of the Business Unit Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket at Continental. “We have succeeded in bringing the driver’s workplace into a new digital dimension. This benefits drivers and manufacturers alike.”
The concept fits seamlessly into the design concepts of the latest vehicle generations of city buses and has already won the iF Product Design Award and the German Design Award. The digital displays give manufacturers complete freedom in the arrangement and programming of the various displays and control panels, providing driver workplaces that can be fully adapted to the respective requirements of the transport company. The first units are already being delivered to bus manufacturers and serial production will start in early 2019. In addition to bus manufacturers, manufacturers of electrically driven municipal vehicles, agricultural machinery and construction vehicles are also showing a great deal of interest in the workplace.
The driver receives only the relevant information in every situation
The special feature of the modular driver’s workplace is the combination of up to three displays with two freely configurable control panels. As a central unit, the fully programmable 12.3-inch TFT display (MultiViu Professional 12) displays various combination instruments and information such as camera images in its basic configuration. It is supplemented by control panels to the right and left of the steering wheel, making the relevant information and the most important controls easy to see. The driver benefits from this concept because only the information that he really needs is displayed, in his native language too, if requested. This avoids unnecessary distractions and allows the driver to fully focus on the ever-increasing volume of road traffic.
Where the speed, battery charge level or navigation is displayed during driving operation, the door cameras and other relevant information can be seen when the bus stops. When reversing or for panoramic camera systems, the display can be used as a monitor, making an extra screen superfluous. Warning lights only appear on the display if there are error messages. Pop-up messages can also be displayed to warn the driver of unusual or hazardous situations. As in the previous models of the driver’s workplace, the system’s height and inclination can be completely adjusted. This means ergonomic working conditions for the bus driver. This is an added value that should also have a positive effect in the search for new drivers.
System competence relieves manufacturers with their parts logistics
“With our new concept, we’re opening a new chapter in the history of the driver’s workplace and we have placed people at the heart of all our deliberations,” says Michael Glunk, Program Manager for the modular driver’s workplace at Continental. “In terms of flexibility and customization, the mDWP represents a major step forward for drivers, fleet operators and manufacturers.” Thanks to the modular design, manufacturers can freely arrange the control panels and displays, adapting the system to match the special requirements of their customers and to the future type of operation of the buses, without having to keep additional components in stock.
The control panels are connected via CAN bus and are freely programmable. This makes the system universally usable. Despite this flexibility, the workplace still complies with the EBSF standard (The European Bus System of the Future) by the International Association of Public Transport UITP and meets VDV requirements (VDV = Association of German Transport Companies). Thanks to the robust design of all its components, the mDWP also proves itself in tough everyday bus use. “As a technology company, Continental is broadly positioned, so we are able to develop a comprehensive system from many different components and that offers great added value for the vehicle manufacturer,” says Dr. Michael Ruf.
Fleet operators benefit from flexibility and individuality
If additional switches, displays or additional devices are needed, two additional displays can be connected to the workplace. The vehicle manufacturer can individually program all the modules according to the wishes of his customers and can also easily change from left-hand to right-hand drive. If the bus has to go on tour for another purpose, the control panels can easily be equipped with new icons and reprogrammed. This is an advantage that cannot easily be achieved with mechanical switches – and yet another benefit for fleet operators.
No switch can be moved unintentionally
Another advantage of the modular driver’s workplace: It has either a memory or a PowerOn function. The next time the engine is started up, for example, switches and displays are at the same settings as when leaving the bus – or in a basic (home) position, even if a cleaning team has meanwhile wiped the modules. Manufacturers who want to offer their customers an additional design option can also immerse the switches and the background lighting of the modular driver’s workplace in a color-matching, ambient light.
You’ll find more information about the modular driver’s workplace, plus a video that clearly shows how it works in practice at this address: www.continental-automotive.com/mdwp. Visitors to IAA Commercial Vehicles can experience it first-hand by taking a seat in an authentic mock-up. Continental’s exhibit, under the banner “Make the Digital Leap”, will be in Hall 17, Both B11/A06. In addition, Continental will hold a press conference featuring trade fair highlights in Room 3B of the convention center on September 19, from 2:15 to 2:40 p.m.