Volvo Testers Turn To Augmented Reality

20 Nov 2020 | 09.32 am

Volvo Testers Turn To Augmented Reality

Reality simulator uses full-body haptic suit

20 Nov 2020 | 09.32 am

Volvo Cars has used gaming technology to create what it calls a ground-breaking mixed-reality simulator to develop safer cars and make new strides in autonomous driving technology.

The simulator involves driving a real car on real roads remotely, using an augmented reality headset and a full-body Teslasuit that provides haptic feedback and creates small reproductions of the forces one would experience in a crash, for example, while experiencing no actual risk. 

Says Volvo: “A setup with a moving driving seat, a steering wheel with haptic feedback and a crystal-clear virtual reality headset would make any serious gamer jealous, but Volvo Cars’ simulator takes this concept to the next level, making it hard to tell reality from simulation. Which is exactly the point.”

It was created in partnership with real-time 3D development platform Unity and Finnish virtual and mixed reality company Varjo, and according to Volvo allows its engineers “gain important insights on the interaction between people and the car for development of new safety, driver assistance and autonomous driving features”.

When developing safety systems for cars, like collision-avoiding technologies, testing is crucial. But testing these systems in reality can be dangerous, time-consuming and expensive. Virtual and mixed reality simulations, however, allow for perfectly safe testing in authentic environments, without having to build any physical prototypes or set up complex scenarios.

The combination of software and hardware allows Volvo engineers to simulate traffic scenarios endlessly on a real test-track road while using a real car, all in total safety.

Testers can be exposed to imagined active safety and driver assistance features, upcoming autonomous drive user interfaces, future car models and many other scenarios. It can be used on real test track roads or in the test lab, and every scenario is fully customisable, says Volvo. “The possibilities are literally endless.”

Senior user experience lead Casper Wickman said: “Working together with great companies like Varjo, Unity and Teslasuit has allowed us to test so many scenarios that look and feel totally real, without having to physically build anything. 

“It lets us test drive actual cars in through traffic scenarios that look and feel real, but can be adjusted at the touch of a button. By using this cutting-edge technology, we are exploring and leading the development for creating safe cars in the future. It’s great to play a part in that.”

You can watch the full livestream recording here and download the summary video of the event here.

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