24.–26.05.2023 #polismobility

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The car of the future as an interface between the virtual and real worlds

HOLOGRACTOR: METAVERSE ON WHEELS

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The Swiss company WayRay, based in Zurich, has set itself the goal of making a science fiction technology ready for series production. In the car of the future, passengers are to experience virtual worlds; which merge with the real world through augmented reality applications.

Among other things, other road users:inside are highlighted on the windscreen to ensure more safety. | © WayRay

Among other things, other road users:inside are highlighted on the windscreen to ensure more safety. | © WayRay

With its "True AR Display" and its "Hologractor", the company has made the novel technology visible in a concept car. The so-called "True AR Display" combines conventional functions of a head-up display with new holographic features. The content is projected optically into the real environment via the windscreen. They are not bound to a fixed distance, but can be displayed anywhere between "zero" and "infinity".

Conceptually, the technology is composed of four components: the laser unit, the image generation unit, the holographic element and the AR rendering engine. The compact laser unit generates an RGB light beam and transmits it via special optical fibres. This is processed in the image generation unit in the dashboard and then hits the holographic element in the windscreen - the photopolymer foil. For the development of the film, WayRay entered into an exclusive partnership with the world's leading supplier of high-tech polymer materials, Covestro AG, based in Leverkusen. In addition, a cooperation was formed with the company AGP eGlass, which specialises in the development and manufacture of automotive glazing and was responsible for integrating the special thin polymer layer into the windscreen. This ensured that all legal and automotive requirements for glazing were met. The fourth essential element is the proprietary AR rendering engine. It processes the data from the sensors, cameras and map information to precisely calculate the position of the vehicle and render virtual objects in real time.

"Hologractor" as a ride-hailing vehicle

One criterion that had to be met throughout was that of safety. While driving, the so-called ADAS intuitively supports the driver's attention and, for example, accentuates pedestrians and cyclists in their field of vision. In this sense, the system ensures that only appropriate apps can be used while driving. When the vehicle is stationary, travel- or environment-related content and entertainment apps can also be used. The real world merges with a virtual one via the games' animations, thus opening up access to the metaverse. The technology provides completely new entertainment possibilities in this area. A proprietary True AR app marketplace and the software development kit enable third-party providers to develop a variety of games, information and entertainment applications that are operated via joysticks in the vehicle.

In order to be able to present and use the "True AR Display" optimally, the company decided to develop its own vehicle. The cooperation partner was to be none other than the renowned designer Sasha Selipanov, who has already been involved in designs for Lamborghini and Bugatti. The result is the "Holograktor" - a 4.4 m long electric car with an integrated "True AR Display". Thanks to modern battery technology, it has an estimated range of 600 km. The three-seater can be controlled both conventionally and by remote control via a 5G internet connection. Via the camera system and sensors as well as mapping, a:r qualified driver:in is allowed to navigate remotely while the occupants enjoy the holographic ride. The steering wheel disappears into a recess in the dashboard when not in use, leaving the airbag function in place. The motivation behind setting up remote control is to explicitly use the "hologractor" as a ride-hailing car. The idea is to be able to choose between the categories "Black", "SUV" and "Holograktor" at Uber. Accordingly, there is a generous distance between the front two seats, which also allows a pleasant view of the windscreen from the rear seat. Despite the futuristic ambitions, the vehicle can be produced realistically and ready for series production.

The WayRay team is able to carry out the processes from research to the development of the software as well as the hardware. This extensive process enables the precise implementation and constant transformation of the idea. As the market leader in the field of holography, WayRay is opening up a new kind of world that has the potential to be adapted into various fields in the future.

Author

Helena Busmann