Increased levels of disruption will continue as autonomous vehicles become more widely available and, with hype around the metaverse continuing to gain traction, AR-related technologies such as simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), facial recognition and motion tracking will be vital for automotive companies developing metaverse-based use cases.
This is according to a recent report by GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, and Thematic Analyst, Emilio Campa, says: “The metaverse is a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within a simulated scenario, while AR is a technology that allows the user to see the real world overlaid with digital data. While the automotive sector is certainly making greater use of AR, adoption is slow and use cases limited.”
According to GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Augmented Reality (AR) in Automotive – Thematic Research’, level 4 autonomy (which describes vehicles that entirely drive themselves within set parameters) will be available in the mid-2020s, giving AR the opportunity to be more widely implemented in windscreen head-up displays (HUDs) for information and entertainment purposes.
Level 5 autonomous vehicles—fully self-driving vehicles that can handle all driving tasks in all circumstances—will not be available until at least 2035. By the time these vehicles launch, even more use cases for AR should have emerged.
AR is already in use in several specific areas of the automotive sector. For example, some car infotainment systems—the display monitor in cars that allows the driver to control air-conditioning, radio, GPS, for instance—have integrated AR as part of an augmented GPS navigation system, displaying holographic arrows on a live image feed from the front of the car. AR headsets are also being used in maintenance and manufacturing to reduce training time and more efficiently and accurately perform quality control checks.
“The automotive sector is not immune to the hype around the metaverse, which is likely to be based on AR-related technology, as some automotive companies have already begun exploring it,” adds Campa.
“For example, BMW has partnered with Nvidia, and Hyundai has partnered with Unity, both with the intent of building virtually accessible 3D digital twins of their factories. This will allow employees to collaboratively assess modifications and adjustments to production lines in the early planning stages.”
WayRay has also developed a concept car, the Holograktor, tagged a ‘metaverse on wheels’ due to its heavy reliance on AR technology. It is a single electric motor ride-hailing car that can be driven remotely from an AR pod by a qualified driver via a 5G and satellite internet connection.
This gives the car the feel of autonomy while avoiding the currently immature fully autonomous-driving systems.
It also has car seats equipped with joysticks that can be used to play games on the windscreen’s AR HUDs and even comes preloaded with a Guitar Hero-esque online karaoke game. The remote connection would require almost zero-latency for the car to be driven safely on the roads.
However, since 5G is due to be more globally available and car ownership among young people is falling, this may be what the future of auto looks like.
“Despite these specific cases, the current impact of AR and the metaverse on the automotive industry is minor.
“However, as the use of AR in consumers’ day-to-day lives increases, adoption in automotive will increase, especially in autonomous vehicles. AR will then improve future entertainment experiences by overlaying content and video games over the outside world or repurposing car windows to display a different world entirely. It is very possible that these worlds will be part of the metaverse, allowing avatars of family members and friends to keep you company on those long—and boring—drives.”