Accuracy is especially crucial in developing safety systems, which drives Volvo to use a ‘mixed-reality’ driving simulator to make greater progress in safety and autonomous driving systems. Volvo’s simulator setup aims to blur the line between reality and simulation with a moving driver’s seat, steering wheel with haptic feedback and a ‘crystal clear’ virtual reality headset, the automaker said.
The simulator combines technology from real-time 3D development platform Unity as well as from virtual and mixed reality experts Varjo, and these combine life-like, high-definition three-dimensional graphics, an augmented reality headset and a full-body Teslasuit that provides haptic feedback from a virtual environment, and which also monitors the user’s bodily reactions.
This combination of hardware and software enables Volvo Cars engineers to simulate traffic scenarios from a real test track in a real vehicle in complete safety, the automaker said. This also enables Volvo to study human reactions to potential situations in a safe environment and at a fraction of the cost of a conventional, real-life test, said Casper Wickman, senior leader of user experience at the Volvo Open Innovation Arena.
“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, Wickman said.
Imaginary configurations such as active safety and driver assist features, upcoming autonomous drive features, future car models and many others can be set up for the tester, can be used on a real test track or in the lab, and scenarios are fully customisable, says Volvo.
Testing is crucial when developing safety systems for cars, however testing in reality can be dangerous, time consuming and expensive, which is where virtual and mixed reality testing comes in. This method enables ‘perfectly safe testing’ in authentic environments, and it does away with the need to build physical prototypes or set up complex scenarios, says Volvo.
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