The Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis concept, revealed at NAIAS, is the “spiritual guide” for all of the Korean automaker’s future premium vehicles, said John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, noting that it’s not merely a thinly veiled, next-generation Genesis, but an “important concept car for us.”
Simplicity was the driving factor behind the concept’s exterior design, said Chris Chapman, Chief Designer, using the phrase “undisturbed sheet metal” to describe its form. A side view of the HCD-14 accentuates the short overhangs, large-diameter alloy wheels with carbon fiber surrounding the voided areas, sharply tapered greenhouse, and short rear deck.
The main story of the HCD-14 concept, however, is found on the inside. The design team eliminated the traditional center stack and eschewed clusters of buttons and knobs. Instead, eye-tracking and 3-D hand-gesture recognition—both fully functional in this concept car, according to Krafcik—are employed to satisfy driver commands. Once a specific feature is selected via eye-tracking, thumb controls or gesture recognition can be used to select navigation, infotainment, audio, HVAC, and smartphone connectivity functions. A windshield head-up display allows the driver to keep his eyes straight ahead.
This proprietary human-machine interface is key to Hyundai’s future vision for premium vehicles.
“We have technology in here called Soft Connect, and it’s basically the same kind of thing [as Xbox Kinect]; it’s gesture-based recognition,” Chapman explained to AEI. “There’s a sensor in the headliner at the top of the glass looking down in a field that’s about 1 ft2 or so, and we can calibrate that to wherever we want it to be. That zone becomes the control area for the entire car, so you don’t need to have real estate for buttons and stuff like that.”
The system recognizes minute details in the shape of the hand with motion capture similar to that used in Hollywood and the gaming industry. But the recognition capability in the HCD-14 is “a little higher-tech and is able to pick up even more detail in the shape and even more slight nuances and movements,” Chapman said.
Hyundai is working with Soft Connect on the gesture recognition, and with Tobii on the eye-tracking. In the HCD-14 concept, the eye-tracking sensors are located in the steering wheel: “It’s not the optimal place that you’d put it in a production car,” said Chapman. “Later on it would be in the instrument cluster or maybe even in the header.”
Hyundai hasn’t had any regulatory discussions with the government regarding this HMI setup, said Chapman. “We’ve kept this internalized. Hopefully they can appreciate it and what we’re doing. Really what’s driving this is…safety.”
Development of these technologies is ongoing at Hyundai. “This system isn’t worked out all the way to the full depths yet,” said Chapman. “With a prototype, you can’t work everything out… It’s still a living conversation for us.”
Other highlights of the HCD-14 concept include “strategic use” of high-tensile steel that provides a rigid platform for the rear-drive powertrain configuration. A five-link front and rear suspension, multi-mode power steering system, and a yaw-control system that provides multiple driver-selected options round out the chassis features.
Under the hood is the 5.0-L, direct-injected Tau V8 engine, with Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT). Optical recognition identifies the driver and initiates the starting sequence; gear selection for the eight-speed automatic transmission is via paddle shifters. The concept car’s exhaust is ceramic-lined and tuned for minimal backpressure and a deep baritone note, Hyundai claims, with cooling fins integrated into wide exhaust tips.