What’s In A Seat: Haptic Feedback

As vehicles are becoming more advanced, we are finding technology where it never was before. Sometimes it is in plain sight, such as infotainment systems, GPS, and head-up display. However, sometimes it is concealed in places one may not expect.

Let’s take a look at automotive seats, they do far more now than just provide a comfortable place to sit. Seats now may have an occupant classification system (OCS), airbags, haptic feedback (vibrating seats), or heated and cooled seats. These systems typically go beyond simple switches and relays and rely on control modules and computers to make them function.

Haptic feedback is a vibration within the seat that alerts the driver. This feature can be used as an alternative to visual and auditory alerts or in conjunction with them. For example, in some systems with a lane departure warning system, the seat will vibrate a pulse on the left or right side of the seat bottom, depending on which direction the car is veering. If equipped with a collision warning system, the seat will vibrate on both sides to alert to a potential forward collision.

These systems typically use one or more haptic feedback motors and a control module that interacts with the ADAS to activate these motors. The control module may detect problems with the system and possibly set DTCs if a problem is detected. If an ADAS is turned off or disabled, then the haptic feedback function will not operate. This needs to be taken into account when testing ADAS for functionality after repairs.

It is important to know if a vehicle is equipped with these features, what parts are used in the system, and where they are located. This will enable you to check for proper operation to ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.

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