There is no denying that Volvo has been very creative in its pursuit of building the world’s safest cars. From the engineering breakthroughs like the three-point seatbelt to a crack team of investigators probing crashed vehicles, the brand can almost be accused of having a singleness of purpose. This time, it’s using computer games to help make automobiles safer than ever before.
Sitting in the company HQ’s basement is a slick gaming rig which Volvo boffins call the “ultimate driving simulator.” What makes it different from basically one that most gamers would have at home is that aside from the usual steering wheel and VR headgear, users actually need to don a special suit that monitors bodily reactions and provides haptic feedback from the virtual world.
Teaming up with 3D specialists Unity and VR experts Varjo, the seemingly simple job of driving a car is made even more immersive for testers with life-like graphics and the aforementioned suit. Volvo is using this rig to test autonomous driving software, electronic vehicle aids, and performance of future products, to name a few. The automaker claims that the virtual environment is endlessly configurable, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to developing cars and automotive systems.
Volvo can probably argue all day about the benefits of such a system like driver safety, and the time and expense of testing in the real world. But deep inside, the company’s employees simply enjoy getting a decent salary from playing what could be the most realistic driving sim rig in the world.