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The augmented reality head-up display: merging the real and the virtual

14.1.2021
The augmented reality head-up display: merging the real and the virtual

The new technology makes its debut in the compact segment with the all-electric Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 models. Information for drivers is superimposed over actual surroundings and projected into their field of view.

Combining the virtual world with the real world to boost comfort and driving safety. That’s the task of the new augmented reality head-up display, making its first appearance in the new Volkswagen ID.31 and ID.42. The system superimposes a range of symbols onto the outside world and displays them dynamically in front of the driver. Volkswagen is the first car manufacturer in the world to introduce this technology in the compact segment, making it affordable for many customers and opening a new chapter in the history of displays and instruments for drivers.

Technology for the masses

Although the technology is a genuine global innovation, Volkswagen has decided to launch it in a volume model. The brand is therefore continuing its strategy of offering high-tech features at affordable prices. “We have introduced a genuine innovation in series production,” explains Frank Welsch, member of the Board of Management for Development. And we have done this not in a premium vehicle, but in the compact models of the all-electric ID. family. Making pioneering technologies available to a large number of customers is a core competency of Volkswagen”.

A dynamic display

The augmented reality head-up display projects important information onto the windscreen, separating it into two fields and levels. The first of these is a large window for the dynamic display, which is located in the driver’s field of view at a virtual distance of around 10 metres and has a diagonal (also virtual) measuring around 1.8 metres. Information from the driver-assistance systems as well as the turn arrows, starting points and destinations of the navigation system are displayed in this far-range window.

The second level appears in a close-range window as a flat band under the large far-range window and shows the driving speed, road signs, and assist and navigation symbols as static displays. They appear to float around three metres in front of the driver.

Real and virtual

Both virtual displays are positioned perfectly in line with the real world outside the vehicle and are shown dynamically. For example, when the vehicle approaches a junction where the navigation system says it should turn off, the driver sees two indications: first, an advance notification on the road level, and then three arrows located at the junction. The closer the car gets to the junction, the larger the arrows become while their textures fade to ensure a clear view of the road.

This is because of the “less is more” concept behind the augmented reality head-up display, which ensures that the driver is never overwhelmed with distracting information.

Lane Assist and Travel Assist

The Lane Assist indications are also visualised in the far-range window: if the vehicle moves closer to a boundary line at the edge of the road, this line is displayed in orange. Meanwhile, two green lines appear after switching on Travel Assist, which keeps the car in the middle of the lane.

When following another vehicle, the display marks the vehicle in front with a stripe that changes colour depending on how close it is. Lastly, when the assist systems are switched off, the driver sees a red warning signal if they drive too close to the vehicle in front.

The Picture Generation Unit

The augmented reality head-up display uses a Picture Generation Unit (PGU) display located deep inside the dash panel. The beam bundles generated by an especially bright LCD display are transmitted onto two flat mirrors, and special lenses separate the portions for the close and far-range display levels. The flat mirrors deflect the beams onto a large, electrically adjustable concave mirror. From here, the beams reach the windscreen and thus enter the driver’s field of view. The driver sees the symbols with the same sharp definition as the real world at an apparent distance of just under 10 metres.

The images, however, are generated by an augmented reality creator located in one of the car’s two central computers. The AR creator calculates the positioning of the symbols corresponding to the surroundings using information from the front camera, the radar sensor and navigation system. The virtual displays are then stabilised with respect to the vehicle’s movements and adapted to the geometry of the optical projection system.

Volkswagen ID.4

The ID.4 is the first electric world car from Volkswagen and is being launched onto the market in Europe. The augmented reality head-up display is standard on the ID.4 1STMax launch version. In the range of preconfigured models following the special series it will be part of the Infotainment package Plus, which also includes the Discover Pro navigation system with touch display. The ID.4 is the first all-electric SUV from Volkswagen and the second model in the ID. family after the ID.3.

1) ID.3 – power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+

2) ID.4 – power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 16.9-16.2 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+

SourceVolkswagen Newsroom

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