The international automotive supplier Continental is presenting a new evolutionary stage of its head-up display (HUD). The Augmented Reality HUD supplements the exterior view of the traffic conditions in front of the vehicle with virtual information (augmentations) for the driver. The AR-HUD was developed from the previous HUD, but now the reflected information appears exactly where the information becomes a part of the driving situation. When navigating, for example, a virtual symbol inserted precisely into the exterior view shows the driver the way on the curve in front of the vehicle. When distance controls (Adaptive Cruise Control, ACC) are enabled, a marking in the AR-HUD visualizes which vehicle in front is detected by the assistance system. Continental is planning production readiness of an Augmented Reality Head-up Display in 2017.
“In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, the AR-HUD relieves the burden on the driver with a new quality of information. In the augmentation, we are connecting what the driver’s eyes see with explanatory information,” said Helmut Matschi, a member of the Executive Board at Continental and head of the Interior division, about the technology, which is at an advanced development stage and integrated into a demo vehicle. “The AR-HUD is an important step in the direction of holistic human machine interfaces in cars for a more comfortable, more economic, and safer driving experience. Drivers receive all important information before their eyes in an easily comprehensible way. This is a major step against driver distraction and sensory overload, both now and in the future.”
With the AR-HUD Continental is continuing a development path that began in 2003, when the company started the production of the first color HUD in a passenger car. Continental has already established an ergonomically impressive display technology with the current version of the HUD. As an information filter, the HUD reflects selected information that is directly related to driving in full color in the windshield, where the driver can read it easily without looking away from the road. The HUD is contributing to the vision of accident-free driving as part of a human machine interface (HMI).
“Every driver can experience the benefits of HUD technology, so we are expecting rapidly increasing equipment quotas in the near future,” said Eelco Spoelder, head of the Continental Instrumentation & Driver HMI business unit. “The AR-HUD is the next step in the evolution of the HMI into a holistic display and operating system for growing requirements. The AR-HUD function is creating a real dialog between the driver and vehicle.”
The technology behind the AR-HUD
The AR-HUD moves virtual information directly into the driver’s line of sight. The AR-HUD inserts full-color graphics into the real road view in an approximately 130 cm-wide by 60 cm-high section of the driver’s field of vision at a distance of 7.5 meters. The basis for this is provided by digital micromirror device (DMD) technology, as is also used in digital cinema projects. Continental will bring this projection technology into series production as early as in 2016. Three possible applications are realized in connection with driver assistance systems in the Continental demo vehicle. For example, the AR-HUD supports the driver if the vehicle is in danger of unintentionally drifting out of a lane. The AR-HUD also supports the use of ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control). When ACC is enabled, a crescent-shaped marking in the AR-HUD highlights the vehicle in front that is detected by the electronics.
“This starts a new interaction between the vehicle and the driver. The vehicle shows the driver what the assistance systems can see and what they are doing. This creates trust and will also help to create acceptance for current and future driving functions,” said Spoelder.
Lastly, the AR-HUD reflects navigation information in the real exterior view. This allows the driver to know at which point they should turn, without having to look back and forth between the navigation screen and the road.
“Our many years of experience with HUD technology helped significantly with the development of the AR-HUD,” said Spoelder. “However, generating the augmentation in the AR-Creator was completely new territory.”
Based on camera and radar data from the vehicle sensors — taking into account the vehicle dynamics data, and digital map data, and GPS positioning — this control unit calculates a model of the real exterior view from the driver’s perspective and can position the augmentations at the correct visual point.
“The quality of the human machine interface in the vehicle is fundamentally changing with the AR-HUD,” summarized Spoelder. “The information appears where the driver intuitively looks first – in the direction of travel. Information can hardly be transmitted in a more ergonomic and intuitively comprehensible way. This augmented reality technology places Continental in a leading role for HUD development.”