Jaguar Land Rover invests in printed electronics to revolutionise vehicle interiors

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In a world-first, Jaguar Land Rover is developing Lightweight Electronics in Simplified Architecture (LESA) research technology – currently used in flexible wearables and curved OLED TVs – for its car interiors.

Lightweight Electronics in Simplified Architecture (LESA) research technology has the potential to radically change cabins of the future and would offer customers greater ability to tailor their cars to suit their needs.

So how does it work then? Well, the system uses computer animated drawings (CAD) to virtually ‘unfold’ a part into its 2D structure. The required electronic circuit, ordinarily wired into a traditional ECU, is then printed onto the fl at surface, and components are mounted, before the CAD is folded back into its original 3D. The part is then manufactured with the electronics printed into the structure. JLR has successfully trialled LESA technology on an overhead control panel prototype, achieving a weight reduction of 60 per cent and minimising the part size from 50mm to 3.5 mm.

And what are the benefits we hear you ask? By bringing structural electronics into a vehicle’s cabin, JLR believes LESA will enable it to design and manufacture innovative, flexible and customisable cabins for its customers while also reducing weight (with wiring, sensors and computing contained within all non-metal materials, removing the need for extra packaging space for control units) and cost during production.

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For example, dashboards could be replaced by curved screens or digital displays could appear on surfaces like wood, negating the need to even have a screen and allow drivers to customise colour-changing body panels. It also means JLR can display information only when it’s needed, helping designers to have a freer approach and ultimately a more streamlined and buttonless look; this could include body controls, wraparound button-less dashboards and advanced fabric/leather heated steering wheels.

It would also be possible to add solar panels to the vehicle without adding extra system weight to the car, and as we move towards a future of motoring that’s focused on hybrid and fully electric there are obvious benefits to generating renewable power from the sun to then be used to recharge a battery.

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