Motorcoach entertainment systems are advancing to offer more options, including driver assistance, safety and infotainment
Entertainment options on a motorcoach used to be fairly basic. A video or music was played, the guide had a microphone and passengers brought books or games with them to help pass the time.
Today’s onboard entertainment systems have advanced with the times to include options like video on demand and internet access. But companies that provide entertainment safety, fleet management and audio/video solutions for the global transportation industry are now taking entertainment systems and wrapping in driver assistance and safety options.
“The trend that we are seeing is customers are starting to ask for more from their entertainment systems than what they used to in the past,” said David Chavez, senior electronics systems engineer for Radio Engineering Industries (REI) in Omaha, Nebraska, which provides audio and video entertainment solutions. “Before, it was just simply being able to play a movie and doing a PA system.”
When it comes to onboard entertainment, the major trend is content on demand and internet access.
“Our newest customer entertainment option is our MegaMedia, with movies, TV shows, games and WiFi being accessed wirelessly through smartphones, tablets or laptops,” said Adam Hall, REI’s inside sales specialist, bus and motorcoach aftermarket division. “It allows you to access the internet at the same time.”
With vehicles becoming more sophisticated, Chavez said REI is looking at doing more automated GPS-automated events and announcements.
“If these coaches have a particular route, and if they want to do an automated ‘tour guide’ that’s prerecorded, then they can actually set different GPS coordinates so that as the coach approaches these coordinates, it plays the pre-recorded message.”
Years ago, a safety announcement pointing out the safety features of the coach to passengers was mandated, but Chavez said the announcement feature is getting demand for entertainment, advertising and other options.
“Our new units are able to play that safety announcement message along with additional priority or advertising messages,” Hall added. “We’ve had customers come out of the woodwork requesting this new message system.”
While the safety announcement feature on buses is garnering attention for more entertainment purposes, more safety options are being added to entertainment systems.
Driver assistance systems being added to entertainment systems now include object detection, lane departure warnings and more. In In effect, the driver is the “controller” of what the passenger sees from his/her touchscreen. But at the same time, all of the sensors that are attached to it are being displayed for use as the driver maneuvers the vehicle, making him/her fully aware of the surroundings.
REI is looking to – in the future – fuse other existing systems to the entertainment package, such as a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view that allows drivers to see what’s around them. Says Chavez, “We’re taking all the technologies that have been out there for different applications and integrating them all together into this center console system that includes driver analytics and artificial intelligence.”
The company will also be able to generate real-time reports to let an operator know if the driver is going over the speed limit, hard braking, idle time and more.
“We understand that some of our customers may be similar, but no two are the same,” Hall said. “You might have one customer with different locations all over the country that has different ways of operating. We can customize solutions to meet each of these needs.”