ECARX digital head unit launches in Europe in the new smart #1


ECARX, a global mobility tech company, will see its next-generation digital head unit (DHU) reach European motorists with the continued roll-out of the new smart #1, expected to begin customer deliveries from end of 2022.

The ECARX-developed digital head unit, running a smart and ECARX co-developed operating system known as smart OS, gives users a more customisable and intuitive experience while exemplifying the smart brand spirit. Based on a design concept set by Mercedes-Benz, the DHU introduces smart’s first ever in-car virtual assistant in the form of a digital fox avatar and an ‘Inspiring Planet’ design concept as a central feature. The co-developed operating system provides a smooth, efficient, and enjoyable Human Machine Interface (HMI) that includes multi-context speech recognition and the ability to download and access a range of global apps.

Delivering a seamless customer experience, the central touchscreen controls vehicle functions and the infotainment system while also controlling a range of driving and user comfort modes. Shortcut icons give quick access to most frequently used vehicle functions and media can be controlled from the home screen at any time via a dynamic widget. Displays are maximised through a split-screen design allowing for a simultaneous view of both the navigation route and media controls, and a pop-up screen with camera view will be activated in certain driving scenarios.

The smart #1 digital cockpit uses next-generation Snapdragon® Cockpit Platforms from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. As key components of the Snapdragon® Digital Chassis™ solutions, the next-generation Snapdragon Cockpit Platforms are designed to transform in-vehicle experiences, supporting higher levels of computing intelligence needed for advanced capabilities featured in next generation vehicles. This includes highly intuitive artificial-intelligence (AI) experiences for in-car virtual assistance, cutting-edge technologies for immersive audio and rich visual experiences, natural interactions between the vehicle and driver, and contextual safety use cases for drivers and passengers. With over-the-air (OTA) capabilities, the system can continuously be improved throughout the lifetime of the car.

Unlike some traditional OEM-supplier relationship, where the suppliers are brought in to fulfil a specification, smart and ECARX worked together from the initial product development phase of the smart #1 in 2019, with each party contributing their own experience and expertise to co-develop a fully integrated digital system.

Commenting, ECARX Chairman and CEO, Ziyu Shen said: “Millions of users in different regions are already enjoying ECARX-developed digital cockpit solutions but we are especially excited to roll-out our latest generation Digital Head Unit in the smart #1 for customers in Europe. Co-developed with smart and based on Mercedes-Benz’s design direction, we’ve jointly delivered a smooth, efficient and enjoyable user experience that embodies the smart brand, on a system that can run global apps and content. Built on a next generation Snapdragon Cockpit Platform, combined with ECARX’s self-developed software stack, it is one of the most advanced platforms currently available.”

Dirk Adelmann, CEO smart Europe, said: “We are very happy with the solution we’ve created together with ECARX for the smart #1. This is the first smart vehicle that is benefitting from the expertise in tailor made software and hardware integration that ECARX brings into our partnership. We are looking forward to the possibilities opening up for our future products and ultimately for our customers.”

Image: smart #1 Digital Head Unit developed by ECARX (Note: Final production screen may vary slightly).