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Designing a touchscreen interface for fire trucks

Developing a new interface is always a challenge. When you have to replace 50 mechanical buttons with a new touchscreen and at the same time improve the condition of those working on rescue vehicles, it starts to get really interesting. Here we talk about how we created a new modern control panel.

Kund:Autokaross Rescue Systems

Autokaross Rescue Systems The Nordic region's leading supplier of tailor made fire and rescue vehicles. The cars are equipped with the latest technology and strive for minimal environmental impact with environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and material selection.

Touch­screen for fire trucks

Autokaross in Flo­by builds cus­tomized res­cue vehi­cles equipped with the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy. Vehi­cles used by sat­is­fied cus­tomers through­out the Nordic region. Repub­lic, togeth­er with the com­pa­ny Mar­tins­son Elek­tron­ik, has devel­oped a mod­ern con­trol pan­el with touch­screen tech­nol­o­gy to con­trol things in a fire truck such as pump motor, water sup­ply, extra light­ing, etc. 

Pre­vi­ous­ly, this was han­dled by a con­trol pan­el with phys­i­cal but­tons at the back of the vehi­cle. With a mod­ern screen-based solu­tion, new oppor­tu­ni­ties were opened to sim­pli­fy process­es and pro­vide a bet­ter overview of stress­ful sit­u­a­tions and gave Autokaross the oppor­tu­ni­ty to offer new addi­tion­al ser­vices, such as sup­port for help func­tions, diag­nos­tics of cur­rent data, etc

Fire truck with the panel mounted in the back

A first step in the project was to cat­e­go­rize the menu choic­es so that it became a so-called event-based sys­tem. This meant that the first choice the fire­fight­er makes is to choose the type of mis­sion, e.g. whether it is a res­cue or fire mis­sion. After that, only the func­tions you need to access dur­ing the cur­rent assign­ment are shown. This pro­vides a faster, clear­er and more intu­itive user inter­face, which is much appre­ci­at­ed in a work sit­u­a­tion where every sec­ond can be crit­i­cal. It was also very impor­tant to keep the inter­face extra clear and taste­ful as it is a work­ing tool that will be locat­ed in smoke and dust and often nav­i­gat­ed with gloves.

Ikoner och detaljer

An ear­ly idea was to always dis­play crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion at one and the same place regard­less of assign­ment nature, in this case the pres­sure before and after the pump­ing, the num­ber of liters of water in the tank, the amount of foam liq­uid, etc. 

When it comes to warn­ings of var­i­ous kinds, we were asked to retrieve inspi­ra­ton from an air­craft cock­pit where the sys­tem at mul­ti­ple warn­ings makes an auto­mat­ic choice where less crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion is sup­pressed in order to min­i­mize stress and high­light the most impor­tant prob­lem for the moment.

The sys­tem has been well received in the mar­ket and our hope is that it will facil­i­tate fire­fight­ers’ lives and that Autokaross will con­tin­ue to lead the devel­op­ment with a good result where every­one in the com­mu­ni­ty ben­e­fits from a safe and effi­cient res­cue service.