On a clear day you can see … everything

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(December 29, 2014) Jaguar’s suite of new visualization concepts may further blur the borders between virtual reality games and real life by giving the driver 360-degree vision and a virtual chase car to follow in urban areas.The idea behind these technologies is to reduce driver distraction by keeping his eyes on the road, and making visible that which otherwise would be hidden.

By embedding view screens in the A-, B- and C-pillars of a vehicle, Jaguar engineers say they can virtually eliminate blind spots. The screens would be fed images from cameras located around the vehicle that cover areas usually obscured by the roof pillars.

When the driver activates his turn signal, looks over his shoulder when changing lanes, or approaches an intersection, the relevant screens would be activated, making the roof pillars virtually transparent. In addition, an overtaking vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist would be highlighted by a moving halo to increase their visibility to the driver.

Says Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover: “If we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments.”

In addition, navigation commands would be presented in the form of a “ghost car” superimposed on the windshield. As it prepared to turn, a directional arrow would appear, alerting the driver that a turn was upcoming. Dr. Epple compares the experience to following someone who knows the best route to your destination.

In addition, the car could plug into the Cloud and alert the driver to turn at recognizable landmarks, preventing him from having to search for street names while on the move. It also could tap into the local roadside infrastructure to display everything from fuel prices to the number of available parking spaces.

And while all this is sold as a way to increase driver safety, adapt to increasing traffic density and compensate for the wider roof pillars that have come with stricter safety standards, what’s to keep enterprising entrepreneurs from using the technology to read your vehicle data and push advertisements for oil changes, etc. direct to your vehicle.

In much the same way that Google has moved from providing search services to tracking your every move around the Internet and selling this information to advertisers, what is to prevent a car company from doing the same?

The Virtual Driver