In Summary

Swinburne University of Technology robotics students have developed a detachable control knob that works with a touch screen as an alternative to one-off function dials in the centre console of a car.

Their project has won the Best Research Project Presentation at the 2014 AutoCRC Technical Conference.

The team of three students – Timothy Lee, Jasper Loh and Bryan Chew – worked on this industry sponsored project with GM Holden to research and build an analogue input integrated into a touch screen.

Touch screens have become a common piece of technology, incorporated in many new model cars. Although analogue dials or knobs are preferred by drivers to control functions in the interior of a car, they have not been integrated into the touch screen system.

“We tried to build a mechanism that is incredibly flexible yet efficient so we decided on the idea of a detachable discrete dial,” Bachelor of Robotics and Mechatronics student, Timothy Lee, said.

“This dial doesn’t need traditional wiring to the computer module of a car, but requires a different integrating method.

“We tried to make the whole design software dependent. This means that the designed knob is software driven. The same dial can be used to control fan speed, temperature and radio and can be programmed for different target customers.” 

The team developed a design and built an aluminium prototype using Swinburne’s 3D printing facilities.

This project was funded by the AutoCRC and supervised by Swinburne’s Dr Zhenwei Cao and David Taylor from GM Holden.