Volvo will be the latest car maker to take advantage of the graphic prowess of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. The Swedish automaker said it will partner with fortnite Innovative to bring “Visual Reality” into the next generation of electric vehicles.
The core of the Volvo/Epic partnership will be the Human Machine Interface (HMI), which, in the context of vehicle ownership, is another way of describing the way car owners interact with their vehicle’s software. Volvo says Epic will help build a platform on which auto industry engineers can design software that improves HMI while also maintaining the levels of safety that Volvo has staked so much of its reputation on.
said Thomas Stovicek, Head of User Experience at Volvo Cars. “So it’s really about creating the next generation of HMI for our customers.”
Stovicek said safety will be a key aspect of the new partnership. Over the years, the company has built its reputation on safe and exotic designs, and today’s announcement aims to underscore that. Ideally, Volvo would want to use an Unreal Engine to present what the car’s external sensors, such as the camera, radar and soon, lidar, see outside the car to drivers without being “overwhelming,” he said, adding, “It can be difficult” to tackle. “
Stovicek said other pieces of information, such as navigation and battery life as well as display of that information, such as light, color and motion graphics, will be improved thanks to the collaboration with Epic Gamers.
Unreal Engine is Epic’s primary tool for creating photorealistic 3D graphics, first introduced in 1998 from a first-person perspective. Not real. Since then, it has been used in a variety of games and has seen its adoption by other industries, most notably the film and television industry.
The auto industry is a particularly attractive target for Epic Games, mostly because cars are easier to render in real life than humans. (Which also speaks volumes about the popularity and prevalence of racing games.) Recently, Epic said it would work with GMC to supply HMI for 2022 Hummer EV Pickup Truck.
But Epic has become increasingly interested in the auto industry. The logic is simple: Modern cars are primarily built with software and carry dozens of onboard computers that rely on touch screens and digital interfaces to power their infotainment centres. And Unreal Engine is a great platform for building software, so why not put that software in the cars?
“It has become very attractive with new hardware coming into cars, to think of the car as an additional platform that we have to learn about,” said Heiko Wenczel, head of the Epic Games Lab in Detroit, “be it from an HMI perspective, from an interaction point, from the game capabilities that It can really bring it to the in-vehicle user experiences.”
Neither Volvo nor Epic will say which vehicles will be the first to feature the software provided by Unreal Engine or what kind of schedule customers should expect to see these features rolled out to Volvo’s wider fleet.
Volvo said it plans to sell 600,000 electric vehicles by the middle of the decade and will build a battery manufacturing facility in Europe by 2026. The company said it is working with Swedish partner Northvolt on a new generation of higher energy density batteries designed to be integrated as a vehicle structural element. The new batteries, due after 2025, will allow for a longer driving distance between charges – up to 625 miles (1,066 kilometres) – and much faster charging times.
Volvo also brings Software development at home As a means to help speed up the deployment of new updates to the company’s fleet or to correct errors in the system. The new operating system, to be called VolvoCars.OS, will power the company’s next generation of electric vehicles and enable unsupervised driving on the highways.
The new operating system will act as an “all-in-one” for all platforms running within the vehicle, including Android Automotive OS, Blackberry’s QNX, Linux and AUTOSAR. The company said its new architecture will feature a two-system core computer on a chip provided by Nvidia. Initially, one will focus on basic driving functions and the other on semi-autonomous features and more advanced functions. In the future, Volvo hopes to combine the two computers into a single system for more efficient processing.
Ultimately, Volvo wants to help Epic Games update its next generation cars, while also acknowledging that feature bloat is a real problem. Clearer renderings, richer colors and brand new 3D animations will of course be included. But anything that distracts the driver will not be part of the package.
“Nothing is on the table for us,” Stovicek said. “But of course, what’s important for us is that we deliver at the right time while making sure we have a safe driving experience and that we’re not distracting the driver the wrong way.”
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