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Augmented reality is enhancing the driving experience.
Augmented reality is enhancing the driving experience.
( Source: Lisa Fotios | Pexels / Pexels)

AUGMENTED REALITY How Augmented Reality is Transforming the Automotive Industry

| Author / Editor: Jamie Thomson / Florian Richert

Augmented Reality (AR) is disrupting many industries, least of all the automotive sector, where AR technologies are transforming manufacturing, vehicle safety and the buyer experience. According to the latest research, the augmented reality automotive market is expected to be worth $6.79 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 17.60%.

Augmented reality is an interactive experience of the physical world, created using digital information. It uses technology to superimpose images, text and sounds on to our physical environment. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which creates computer-generated environments, Augmented Reality (AR) adds to our pre-existing physical world.

The current pace of AR development means that technologies are becoming more affordable and thus adopted by an increasing number of automotive companies, in a number of ways. Let’s take a closer look at how AR is transforming the sector:

Advancing the development of autonomous vehicles

Alongside Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, AR is advancing the development of self-driving vehicles, helping the industry edge ever-closer to Level 5 autonomy. Simultaneous Localizations and Mapping (SLAM) technologies like cameras and sensors are being used in combination with AR to perform a number of autonomous functions.
For example, the data gathered from these technologies is being used to determine distance between objects, detect road conditions and read street signs and traffic light signals.
Technology company, Civil Maps is currently using augmented reality to create maps that demonstrate how autonomous vehicles navigate in the real world. Its mapping and localization technology can be used to help self-driving cars make better driving and navigation decisions on the road. Here’s an overview of how the technology works:

Improving road safety

Perhaps the most valuable contribution that AR brings to the automotive industry is enhanced road safety. Augmented Reality Head-Up Displays (HUD), for example, use AR in combination with real-time sensor data and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to project navigational cues in front of drivers.
These graphical prompts interact with real world objects and can improve driver situational awareness. Such is the benefits of HUDs that the global automotive HUD market is predicted to reach $3.2 billion by 2024.
Nissan recently presented its Invisible-to-Invisible (I2V) technology, which uses augmented reality and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a 360-degree virtual space around a vehicle to gather road data and make ADAS smarter and safer. The system is able to track whether a driver is focused on the road and can detect nearby objects.

Enhancing the buyer experience

Traditionally, buying a new car involves visiting a dealership and browsing the models, colours and specifications that are on show. If a particular model or colour isn’t available, the buyer typically settles for what’s on offer.
With AR, however, customers can see the exact car they want. Projecting a digital image over the original car enables them to see their preferred car virtually. Using SLAM technology, customers can walk around the car as if it were real.
AR headsets like the Varjo XR-1, which is currently being used by Volvo, even lets customers take their preferred car for a test drive. The headset uses 12-megapixel cameras to project images into the outside world and has very low latency, meaning driving can be experienced in near real-time
Outside the showroom, customers can use AR technology to scan cars and view information about their price and features. Insurance company USAA has developed an app using Blippar’s car recognition technology that enables customers to scan vehicles designed after the year 2000.

Improving the driving experience

Augmented reality is being used to enhance the driving experience by providing drivers with real-time information without distracting them from the road. Wearables, see-through displays and navigation instructions are being used by many manufacturers to make their vehicles safer, more comfortable and to improve driving convenience.
For example, Munich-based startup RE’FLEKT, is using AR to enhance customer support. Their Remote product connects customers with technicians, who provide real-time video support with augmented reality. The product enables vehicle manufacturers to improve maintenance and repair processes and to reduce travel costs for customers.
Swiss company WayRay, has developed a dashboard-mounted holographic display that provides drivers and passengers with a personalized interface that displays navigation, safety, and infotainment content in real time.

In summary

Augmented Reality is already being used by vehicle manufacturers to make our roads safer and our driving experiences more convenient. As the reality of self-driving cars draws ever-nearer, the future of AR looks to be in enabling autonomous navigation through connectivity with SLAM technologies.

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