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You could soon be simulating F1 from the front seat of your autonomous car

Written by Mon 18 Nov 2019

Researchers develop prototype for vehicle-to-vehicle VR multiplayer racing

With autonomous vehicles becoming ever smarter, autonomous and prevalent on the world’s roads, drivers who previously had to have both hands on the wheel can now lounge in leisure from the comfort of their driver’s seats.

What will road users of the not-so-distant future do with all their newfound car freedom? Experts expect us to catch up on emails, conduct meetings, tune into Netflix and so on, essentially extending our work and leisure lives into the cabin.

But UK researchers have been working on a slightly different project that will be music to the ears of the world’s autonomous car-owning gamers, but lead to a few raised eyebrows in road safety circles: turning windscreens into displays for VR multiplayer in-car gaming.

Button-bashing boffins from the University of Waterloo have detailed a driving simulator for level three semi-autonomous vehicles that transforms a car’s cabin and outside environment into a racing simulator that fills the roadway with cars controlled by other road users and intelligent computers.

According to Matthew Lakier, PhD student at Waterloo’s School of Computer Science, encouraging drivers to step into an artificial race scenario while they themselves are hurtling down the motorway at 70 mph is safer than it sounds.

“You will be able to play games with other people in autonomous vehicles nearby when the car is driving itself. The games will be imposed on top of the actual world, so drivers won’t have to take their eyes off the road,” he explained.

As part of the research, twelve participants evaluated the cross-car games before performing occasional take-over tasks.

“Overall, the participants rated the games highly in immersion, there was a positive response to the incorporation of HUDs in the games, and the different game styles did not significantly impact the take-over task completion time,” said Lakier, a member of Waterloo’s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab.

It is fair to say that both gamers and drivers share a propensity for occasional rage, but Lakier implied combining the two worlds encourages relationships to blossom.

“People were happy to play with strangers. So, for example, they said they could form impromptu relationships with other people on the road.”

Written by Mon 18 Nov 2019


autonomous vehicles
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