Volvo will use Epic’s Unreal Engine to create ‘realistic’ graphics in its electric cars

Volvo will be the latest automaker to take advantage of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine graphics capabilities.The Swedish carmaker said it would work with Fortnite Creators bring ‘realistic visualizations’ to their next-generation electric vehicles.

Key to the Volvo/Epic collaboration will be the “Human Machine Interface” (HMI), which, in terms of vehicle ownership, is another way of describing how the owner interacts with the vehicle’s software. Volvo said Epic will help build a platform on which the automaker’s engineers can design software to improve the human-machine interface while maintaining the level of safety Volvo has always built on its reputation.

“This technology allows us to create responsive, really high-quality visuals that we can use and layer in information to create realistic representations when needed, all those things,” said Thomas Stovicek, head of user experience at Volvo. Say car. “So this is really about creating the next generation of human-machine interfaces for our customers.”

Image: Volvo

Security will be a core aspect of the new partnership, Stovicek said. The company has built a reputation for safety and quirky designs over the years, and today’s announcement aims to underscore that. Ideally, Volvo wants to use Unreal Engine to render the vehicle’s exterior sensors, such as cameras, radar, and soon lidar, without being “overwhelmed” by what those sensors see outside the car, he said, adding Said, “This can be difficult to deal with.”

As a result of the partnership with Epic Gamers, Stovicek said other information, such as navigation and battery life, and the presentation of that information, such as lighting, color and motion graphics, will be improved.

Unreal Engine is Epic’s primary tool for creating realistic 3D graphics, first shown in 1998’s first-person shooter illusory. Since then, it has been used in various types of games and adopted by other industries, especially the film and television industry.

The automotive industry is a particularly attractive target for Epic Games, mainly because cars are easier to render realistically than humans. (It also speaks to the popularity and popularity of racing games.) Recently, Epic said it would partner with GMC to provide HMI software for the 2022 Hummer EV pickup truck.

Image: Volvo

But Epic’s interest in the auto industry is growing. The logic is simple: modern cars are primarily designed using software, and carry a plethora of onboard computers that rely on touchscreens and digital interfaces to power the infotainment center. Unreal Engine is a great platform for building software, so why not put that software in a car?

Heiko Wenczel, head of Epic Games’ Detroit Lab, said: “As new hardware comes into the car, it becomes very attractive to think of the car as an additional platform that we should be aware of.” From an HMI perspective, from an engagement Point, from what gaming features can actually bring to the user experience in the car. “

Neither Volvo nor Epic has said which vehicles will be equipped with Unreal Engine-provided software first, or what timeline customers should expect these features to roll out to the wider Volvo fleet.

Volvo said it plans to sell 600,000 electric cars by the middle of the century and will build battery-making plants in Europe by 2026. The company said it is working with Swedish partner Northvolt to develop a new generation of batteries with higher energy density, designed to be integrated as structural elements of vehicles. The new batteries, due after 2025, will have longer range between charges — up to 625 miles (1,006 kilometers) — and faster charging times.

Volvo is also bringing software development in-house to help expedite the deployment of new updates to the company’s fleet or correct errors in the system. The new operating system, called VolvoCars.OS, will power the company’s next-generation electric vehicles and enable unsupervised driving on highways.

Image: Volvo

The new operating system will act as an “umbrella system” for all underlying systems in the car, including Android Automotive OS, Blackberry’s QNX, Linux and AUTOSAR. The company said its new architecture will use a core computer consisting of two systems-on-chips provided by Nvidia. Initially, one will focus on core driving functions, while the other will focus on semi-autonomous functions and more advanced functions. In the future, Volvo hopes to combine the two computers into one system to improve processing efficiency.

Ultimately, Volvo wants Epic Games to help modernize its next-generation vehicles, while acknowledging that feature bloat is a real problem. Of course, sharper rendering, richer colors and new 3D animations will also be included. But anything that distracts the driver won’t be part of the package.

“For us, there is nothing to fix,” Stovicek said. “But of course, it’s important to us that we introduce it at the right time, while making sure we have a safe driving experience and don’t distract the driver in the wrong way.”

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