Automotive Applications with Vibration Motors

Automotive Applications with Vibration Motors

Vibration motors are becoming widely used in the automotive sector.

The most obvious application is using vibration motors for haptic feedback and vibration alerting functions. With so much information to be processed while driving, it is often considered that the human auditory and visual sensors are saturated. Therefore car manufacturers are using vibrations to communicate important safety information to the driver, via their third sense - touch.

Vibrating motors are not just used for safety, but also to enhance the user's experience. As the car market has a large ‘premium level’ segment, increasing the comfort of passengers is an important consideration. As a result, massaging features are also popular.

Console And Dashboard Haptic Feedback

Many cars now feature touchscreen dashboards

Many cars now feature touchscreen dashboards

One of the big changes in automotive dashboard design over the last decade has been the introduction of the LCD display. Thanks to the demand for built-in GPS and increased control over sophisticated features, displays can be found in the centre of nearly all premium car dashboards.

More recently these displays have become touch-screens, and as with most touchscreen interfaces, haptic feedback has been introduced to provide the operator with tactile information about button-presses. A cutting-edge trend in this area is the introduction of capacitive touch technology in dashboards. This reduces the number of mechanical switches that need to be embedded into the dashboard moulding and offers designers far greater freedom over form and design.

The sense of tactile feedback is produced by vibration motors, such as the eccentric rotating mass vibrating motors found in our Precision Haptic™ range and our linear resonant actuators. Improving the tactile feedback of touch surfaces enhances user’s experience and control over the system.

2011 Chevrolet Volt Dashboard

2011 Chevrolet Volt Dashboard

Tactile and haptic feedback is much more important in the automotive sector because drivers cannot look at displays to confirm whether a button has been pressed and focus on the road at the same time!


Vibration Alerts For Safety And Warnings

A very refined vibro-alert

A very refined vibro-alert

With more sensors than ever before, cars are becoming more and more sophisticated at understanding their environment and reacting appropriately. Whilst some new features are automatic, such as seat belt tightening when a crash is imminent, many of the sensors are included to provide the driver with information. For example, parking sensors are now commonplace, using an audio alert to indicate how close an object is to the back of the car when reversing.

Instead of distracting lights or confusable alerting noises, information can easily be discretely transmitted to the driver through vibration alerting. The two areas most commonly used are the steering wheel and the seat.

Steering wheels can produce vibrations to notify the driver when a lane change is detected without indication. Alternatively, the seats can vibrate to alert the driver if they change lanes too slowly, or to any other signs of driver fatigue. Using vibrating motors to provide directional haptic feedback may see increasing levels of adoption as cars are equipped with ever more intelligent sensors.

An increasing number of commercial truck and van manufacturers are implementing similar technologies as these safety features become standard.

Increasing Driver Comfort

Waking fatigued drivers & comforting roadtrips

Waking fatigued drivers & comforting road trips

Vibrations can also be used in car seats to vibrate massage and relax passengers. In a bid to differentiate themselves from their competitors, many automotive manufacturers, particularly in the luxury sector, are adding ever more features as standard.

A typical massage enabled car seat like the one pictured will use 2 pairs of large vibrating motors, such as the motors from our Uni Vibe ranges. Two are typically placed at the base of the back and another two in the shoulder region.

More expensive seats use complicated mechanical cams and other mechanisms to create kneading motions, whilst cheaper ones can use just vibration. For help understanding which of our motors are suitable, please feel free to get in touch and we would be happy to help.

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