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Communication Multimedia Unit Inside Car

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Different information issued simultaneously to a driver could provoke an unexpected increase in workload and could negatively affect driving safety.

Car accidents in Europe cause around 45,000 deaths and 1.5 millions injured people per year, while some 80% of these accidents are provoked by drivers' errors. Therefore, driver distraction and workload reduction represent decisive factors contributing to accident prevention.

The COMUNICAR project contributed to alleviating this problem through the development of a Human Machine Interface (HMI), based on a set of highly usable input/output devices and controlled by a system that decides if, when and how information can be issued to the driver according to driving conditions and driver workload.

The COMUNICAR HMI has also introduced an innovative way of visually and acoustically displaying information coming from Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (i.e. frontal and lateral collision warnings).


The COMUNICAR project has been aimed to design, develop and test an on-vehicle integrated multimedia Human Machine Interface (HMI) able to handle different messages for the driver.

In particular these comprised:

  • Essential and traditional vehicle information, e.g. speedometer, RPM counter, warnings, etc.
  • Innovative features for the driving support, e.g. the so-called Advanced Driver Assistant Systems, such as lateral and longitudinal collision warning.
  • Telematics services, e.g. navigation, traffic information, phone, messaging, etc. 
  • Onboard entertainment equipment, such as radio, CD, MP3, etc.

The COMUNICAR HMI is not only an integrated HMI but also a system for filtering delivered information. This role is played by a specific software unit called Information Manager (IM), which will select if in-vehicle information can be provided, which is the best means of improving efficiency and avoiding possible overlapping of concurrent messages.

The integrated multimedia HMI provides a set of innovative input and output devices compliant with the driving task, thus reducing the cognitive load due to the interaction with the on-board information system with its visual and acoustical layout allowing for the highest usability and acceptance of driver information.

The COMUNICAR research process is composed of two phases: the design of the integrated multimedia HMI and the usability tests. The first one is aimed at defining specifications of the multimedia HMI and the main rules according to which the Information Manager operates. The second one evaluates usability, acceptance, workload and safety impact of the HMI during laboratory, driving simulator and real drive tests.

As a final project outcome, two vehicle prototypes – an Alfa Romeo 147 and a Volvo S60 – have been equipped with the integrated HMI including the Information Manager.


A user centred approach was adopted for the design and development of the COMUNICAR HMI to ensure the appropriate involvement of all users at all phases of the design and development of the proposed system.

Therefore, the developed HMI was tested in all conditions and in different environments including lab simulation, driving simulators and through on road tests to ensure that the need to integrate different services in a vehicle is addressed in a safe and comprehensive way.

The developed HMI was integrated in two demonstration vehicles, a car provided by Volvo and a car provided by CRF. This way the modularity and adaptability of the proposed HMI to different situations and vehicles has been demonstrated.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Comission, DG Information Society
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Moving from this scenario, the COMUNICAR project (COmmunication Multimedia UNit Inside CAR) has designed, developed and tested an integrated multimedia Human-Machine Interface (HMI) able to handle the following functions: (1) mandatory and traditional vehicle information (speedometer, RPM counter, vehicle warnings, etc.); (2) advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) (i.e. lateral and longitudinal collision warning); (3) telematic services (i.e. navigation, traffic information, phone, messages, etc.) and (4) infotainment (RADIO, CD, MP3, etc.).

All these pieces of information are provided to the driver according to the driving conditions and his/her workload thanks to a rules-based system named Information Manager (IM). It chooses in real time if, when and in which format each incoming message has to be delivered to the driver and how the possible overlapping among contemporary information can be solved.


Technical Implications

The integrated multimedia HMI developed and integrated in the two vehicle prototypes as well as the Information Manager met both the usability and the expected users’ acceptance requirements, and a reduction in the drivers’ workload (with a consequence road safety benefit).


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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