Volvo Cars uses latest gaming tech to develop mixed-reality driving simulator

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 22, 2020

In 2019, Volvo, with help from Varjo, became the first vehicle manufacturer to make it possible to drive a real auto while wearing a mixed reality headset.

Using a setup involving a moving driver's seat, steering wheel and haptic feedback, the virtual reality setup aims to provide a real-life experience behind the wheel to simulate driving a real auto on real roads. Volvo has roped-in cutting edge technology from two leading real-time 3D development platforms - Unity and Vario -and a full-body Teslasuit that provides haptic feedback to the data console which also monitors body reactions while driving the auto in simulation.

Casper Wickman, senior leader of user experience at Volvo's Open Innovation Arena, 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", said Wickman.

The data acquired through these simulations will help the engineers in the development of the car's safety features, driver assistance controls and autonomous driving abilities. The Swedish auto giants are taking the concept a step ahead by employing the use of state-of -the-art simulators, which offer an immersive experience making it hard to distinguish the simulation from reality. 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. "It's great to play a part in that". With the Varjo XR-1 headset, the objects and environments created in Unity can be seamlessly integrated into the real world. By wearing Teslasuit's advanced full-body haptic suit, Volvo's simulation testers can physically feel small reproductions of the forces one would experience in a crash, while experiencing no actual risk.

Following on from a range of safety innovations, the firm is now using video game driving simulators to improve things further.

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