Audi engineers have developed a car based on the Audi A4 that uses an Oculus Rift virtual reality to simulate emergency situations, and we’ve driven it.
Based on the regular Audi A4, the Audi Virtual Experience car features a number of custom-built features that allow the driver to don an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and then physically go out for a drive.
Under controlled conditions at Munich airport in Germany, we threw the goggles on and drove the actual car through a virtual world. The virtual world featured a slalom within a city street and also featured a cyclist that fell over out of view.
Of course, as any rubbernecker would do, the driver is asked to watch the cyclist shortly before a driver pulls out in front of us. In actual reality, nothing has happened, but in the virtual world, we’re about to have an expensive crash.
All of a sudden, the autonomous emergency braking system activates and grinds the car to a halt with next to no notice.
This vehicle and the technology is intended to be rolled out around the world and gives the average punter a chance to experience the vehicle’s emergency technology in safe conditions and within a controlled environment.
The incredible technology uses the Oculus Rift developer mode, which teams with a Linux operating system, a 3.9Ghz CPU and Windows 10 for graphics overlay. Inside the cabin, the Oculus Rift headset features white dots that allow a position scanner to locate the driver’s head and positioning.
Sensors on the outside of the car then communicate with a fixed position locator that positions the car accurately within the test circuit. The supervising passenger then also sees what the driver sees and has full control of the vehicle in case of an emergency.
Looking into the future, Audi hopes that this technology will shrink from taking up the entire boot, to being loaded into the car with only a small number of sensors.
It’s an incredible way of showing buyers how technology and safety systems work without putting them in harm’s way. Unlike a computer or simulator, the driver is operating an actual vehicle.
Click on the Photos tab to see the full Audi Virtual Experience car gallery.
What do you think of this technology? Would you throw a virtual reality headset on to test safety systems within a controlled environment?