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Volvo uses video games to make cars safer

Because it’s easier to test things in the virtual world

This looks like fun, but it's actually serious stuff. PHOTO FROM VOLVO

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.

The gaming rig requires users to suit up. PHOTOS FROM VOLVO

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.

The simulator is probably just an excuse for Volvo workers to play. PHOTO FROM VOLVO

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 lifelike 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.

Will video games make Volvo cars more exciting? PHOTO FROM VOLVO

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.

Miggi Solidum

Professionally speaking, Miggi is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He pens the column ‘G-Force’.