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Called the “the ultimate driving simulator” by Volvo engineers, the simulator features a moving driving seat, a steering wheel with haptic feedback, and a “crystal-clear” virtual reality (VR) headset that, says the company, makes it hard to tell reality from simulation. The simulator uses the latest technology from leading real-time 3D development platform Unity and from Finnish virtual and mixed reality startup Varjo, and involves driving a real car on real roads.

It combines life-like, high-definition 3D graphics, an augmented reality headset, and a full-body Teslasuit that provides haptic feedback from a virtual world, while also monitoring bodily reactions. This combination of software and hardware, says the company, allows its engineers to endlessly simulate traffic scenarios on a real test track road while using a real car, all in total safety.

Using the simulator, engineers can gain important insights on the interaction between people and the car for development of new safety, driver assistance, and autonomous driving features. 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 customizable.

“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,” says Casper Wickman, senior leader of User Experience at Volvo’s Open Innovation Arena. “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.”

When developing safety systems for cars, like collision-avoiding technologies, testing is crucial, says the company, 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.

“By using this cutting-edge technology,” says Wickman, “we are exploring and leading the development for creating safe cars in the future. It’s great to play a part in that.”

Volvo Cars Varjo
Teslasuit

Related articles:
Volvo, Varjo bring mixed reality to automotive development
‘Deathproof’ cars by 2020, says Volvo
Volvo envisions autonomous vehicles as revolutionizing travel

 


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