Virtual Climate Control in New Vehicles

It’s a familiar story that many of us have heard before. Mom and dad are driving in the front seat of the car and they’re freezing and have the heat on full blast. But the kids are in the back and covered in sweat because they’ve all been hot and they want the air turned on. Sure they can turn the air on in the back seat and leave the heat on in the front, but some of that heat still makes it to the back seat and the cold is still making it to the front and no one is comfortable. That’s why General Motors has finally developed a new virtual climate control technology that can allow you to adjust the temperature for each individual seating space in a vehicle, and this new technology is being unveiled in the new 2012 Terrain!

The new technology was developed by studying the way that air flows in the car. This way researchers were able to look at exactly where specific streams of air were flowing and then tailored their flow to only surround the passenger in the individual seat! The developers used both real dummies as well as digital car dummies to find the exact places that air would travel through the vehicle. They then used that information to look at how air flows in order to direct the hot or cold air in the right directions so that the air will only blow on the individual, allowing for maximum individual comfort within the vehicle.

The researchers also created their own special dummy, which they nicknamed Monika, which is a wire mannequin that they outfitted with nickel-chromium sensors. The sensors provide researchers with specific data about the temperatures that the individual is feeling in the seats. This technology was also tested within a temperature range of negative forty all the way up to one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit! Monika can let the engineers know when she starts to experience these temperatures outside of the normal human comfort range.

The researchers really worked hard on this technology. They made sure to cover all of their tracks by accounting for things like perspiration and internal temperature, as well as varying sizes and shapes of passengers. Naturally they can’t tailor the vehicle to provide the most comfort for every passenger considering the wide variety of shapes and sizes that people come in, but they were able to at least optimize the airflow to provide the most comfort for the most people.

For this change in the GMC Terrain, researchers had the added challenge of adjusting the air to fit the stylistic designs of the air vents placed in the Terrain. “We had to work a lot on the directing ability of the outlets,” Jeff Bozeman, one of the head engineers for this project, said. “The first impression of the vehicle is the interior, and it’s where people spend most of their time. Our job is to make the vehicle feel as good as it looks inside.”

Bozeman and his team work with the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, Delphi Automotive and the University of California, Berkeley to develop these new technologies. He hopes that the technology will grow more and more sophisticated through the years. If you would like more information on purchasing some of the most comfortable vehicles on the market today please visit our contact us page or call 888-306-1908!