Volvo will give its designers and engineers a tool that will let them drive a next-generation car years before it even exists, saving the company substantial time and money while improving safety.
This will be possible because Volvo is teaming up with Finnish startup Varjo to launch mixed-reality headsets that can be used while driving, the automaker said Wednesday.
Varjo’s XR-1 goggles will allow Volvo’s experts to add virtual elements or complete features that seem real to the driver and the car’s sensors for development purposes. Volvo says no other automaker possesses this capability.
“The Varjo XR-1 headset is really a game changer when it comes to speeding up the development process,” Volvo Senior Researcher Casper Wickman said in a video describing the technology.
While Volvo was unable to quantify exactly how much time and money it expects to save by using the headsets, Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, believes the benefits will be substantial.
“We have significantly changed the way we think about prototyping, concepting our design and simulating different scenarios, particularly as it relates to active safety,” Fasihuddin told Automotive News Europe. “It will definitely be more cost-efficient when you build a digital prototype versus a physical prototype.”
A key reason why Volvo started collaborating with Varjo was to further improve safety, Fasihuddin said. Starting next year Volvo wants no one to be killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars.
There was another big catalyst for adding the headsets. “For us this was really about pushing the envelope when it comes to using cutting-edge technology like this in our business processes. Ultimately the goal is to make our product better,” Fasihuddin said.