Mississippi State’s Centerstack: A Thing of Inner Beauty

Year Three of EcoCAR 2 focuses on optimization: making a car conceptually showroom ready. That means adding amenities and features that would make a car desirable to a consumer market. Teams focus not only on the performance and safety of the car, but making the driver’s seat appealing as well. The challenge is making a car that consumers would enjoy driving.

Home screen display for MSU centerstack.

Home screen display for MSU centerstack.

As part of this challenge, each team had to implement an interactive centerstack into their vehicle. This meant putting a complicated system into a vehicle essentially from scratch. It opened up intriguing possibilities while also presenting a unique challenge. Using embedded software tools donated by Freescale, teams had a world of possibilities to work with.

The Mississippi State (MSU) EcoCAR 2 team worked with a senior computer science class to develop its centerstack project. The team separated into groups and worked in parallel to save time and produce a more appealing product.

The team faced many challenges, but in the end its struggles were well worth it. The MSU centerstack now displays GPS, air control, radio, MP3, and major systems status on a 13.3 inch touch-screen. It basically acts like a large tablet in the car.

Along with its centerstack, the centerstack team also developed companion applications for smartphones that coincide with the information on the centerstack. An app was developed for Android and Apple users. This required research into Android and iOS user interface and the standards for each. Within each app, similar features were incorporated. Each app allows users the ability to lock and unlock the doors. This is especially useful for those who lock their keys in their car, but never forget their phone. The smartphone apps also have unique user statistics. It can give an eco-rating, average distance traveled, average fuel economy and other useful insights. Each of these features were tested with hypothetical data to ensure functionality within the app. All features are completely operational and reliable.