05-02-18 Materials matter
Eventually, we'll say sayonara to the days where being in a car means keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. In the not-so-distant future, autonomous vehicles could be like an extension of your home — a space to relax, watch a movie, get some work done, some say — and materials play a key role in achieving that balance among function, comfort, emotion and mood.
"There needs to be a filter between the inside and the outside. There needs to be translucent materials that allow for natural light to come in and [we need] to provide privacy, but not too much," Expert said of autonomous vehicle interiors. "We need to have meaningful, sensory experiences: nice patterns, nice textures."
But what materials can meet all of the requirements for use in these automotive interiors of the future? Here's the short list, according to such experts.
• Vibration-dampening foam for sound insulation ... because who wants to hear the hustle and bustle of traffic outside when you're trying to read, conduct a meeting or snooze?
• Translucent and easy-to-form polycarbonate. "We need PC plastic to create those large windows for a panoramic view," Crippa said, adding that replacing glass with PC helps with lightweighting.
• UV-responsive plastic additives for heat insulation.
• Soft and durable polyurethanes for enhanced comfort.
• In-mold decorative film with sensors, which can reduce the number of components. "We also need to have a lot of sensors and responsive surfaces because the car needs to be a smart car," she said.
• Polycarbonate with light-diffusing pigments for ambiance as well as personalization if it's a shared car.
• Plastics with antibacterial and odor-control additives.
• Durable and scratch-resistant surfaces, such as thermoplastic polyurethane.
• Vegan and eco-friendly leather alternatives to respect all users' values.
• Stain-resistant and washable textile coatings.
"As the car becomes autonomous, it changes completely the way we live inside the car, the journey becomes more meaningful.”
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