Volvo uses the latest gaming technology to develop safe carsNovember 19, 2020
Volvo Cars engineers call it “the ultimate driving simulator”, but for them it’s not just an excuse to indulge their inner gamer. An innovative mixed reality simulator is being used by a Swedish company to make new advances in safety and autonomous driving technology.
A rig with a movable driver’s seat, tactile feedback steering wheel and crystal-clear VR goggles will envy any serious gamer, but the Volvo Cars Simulator takes this concept to the next level, blurring the distinction between reality and the virtual world. And that’s exactly the point.
Powered by cutting-edge technologies from Unity, the leading real-time 3D modeling platform, and Finnish VR and mixed reality experts Varjo, the simulator is designed to drive a real car on real roads. It combines realistic high-definition 3D graphics, augmented reality glasses and a complete Teslasuit body suit that provides tactile feedback to the virtual world as well as tracks body reactions.
This combination of software and hardware allows Volvo Cars’ engineers to endlessly simulate driving scenarios on a real test track using a real car, all in complete safety. They can receive important information about the interaction between people and the car for the development of new functions in the areas of safety, driver assistance and autonomous driving.
Testers are exposed to imaginary active safety and driver assistance features, promising autonomous driving user interfaces, future car models, and many other scenarios. It can be used on real roads with test tracks or in a test lab, with each scenario fully customizable. The possibilities are literally endless.
Last year, Volvo Cars, along with Varjo, became the first automaker to make it possible to drive a real car with mixed reality glasses. This collaboration has now been expanded to include Unity and tactile suit maker Teslasuit.
According to Kasper Wikman, Senior Head of User Experience at Volvo’s Open Innovation Arena and one of the leading live broadcasts, this allows Volvo Cars to study real human reactions in a safe environment and at a significantly lower cost than in real tests.
“Working with great companies like Varjo, Unity and Teslasuit has allowed us to test many scenarios that look and feel completely real, without physically building anything,” says Kasper Wickman. “This allows us to test real cars in road conditions that look and feel real and can be adjusted at the touch of a button.”
When developing automotive safety systems such as collision avoidance technologies, testing is critical. But testing these systems in practice can be dangerous, time consuming and costly. Virtual and mixed reality simulations allow for completely safe testing in a realistic environment without the need to create any physical prototypes or build complex scenarios.
“Using this cutting-edge technology, we research and lead the development of the safer vehicles of the future. It’s great to be a part of this, ”said Kasper Wikman.
Last year, Volvo Cars, along with Varjo, became the first automaker to make it possible to drive a real car with mixed reality glasses. The Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition glasses use video cameras to create mixed reality and provide high definition mixed or virtual reality. With the Varjo XR-1 glasses, objects and environments created in Unity can be easily integrated into the real world.
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