Volvo's electric vehicles will include 'photorealistic' visuals created with Epic's Unreal Engine

Volvo’s electric vehicles will include ‘photorealistic’ visuals created with Epic’s Unreal Engine

Volvo will be the latest automaker to take advantage of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine’s graphical prowess. The Swedish automaker announced a collaboration with the designer of Fortnite to include “photorealistic visuals” into its next generation of electric vehicles.

The “human-machine interface” (HMI), which in the context of vehicle ownership is another way to define how car owners interact with their vehicle’s software, will be at the heart of the Volvo / Epic collaboration. Volvo claims that Epic will assist in the development of a platform on which the automaker’s engineers can design software to improve the HMI while also preserving the levels of safety on which Volvo has staked much of its reputation.

“This technology provides us the capacity to build responsive, really high-quality images that we can play with and layer in information, make realistic representations when needed, and all of that,” said Thomas Stovicek, Volvo Cars’ head of user experience. “So it truly comes down to developing the next generation of HMI for our customers.”

Safety will be a core aspect of the new partnership, Stovicek said. Over the years, the company built its reputation on safety and quirky designs, and today’s announcement is meant to underline that. Ideally, Volvo wants to use the Unreal Engine to render what the vehicle’s external sensors, like camera, radar, and soon, lidar, are seeing outside the car to drivers without being “overwhelming,” he said, adding, “It can be hard to process.”

Other bits of information, like navigation and battery life as well as the presentation of that information, like light, color, and motion graphics, will be improved thanks to the collaboration with Epic Gamers, Stovicek said.

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Epic’s principal tool for creating realistic 3D graphics is the Unreal Engine, which was first demonstrated in the 1998 first-person shooter Unreal. It has since been employed in a variety of game genres and has been adopted by other sectors, most notably the film and television industries.

Epic Games is particularly interested in the automotive business, owing to the fact that cars are easier to represent realistically than humans. (This also testifies to the prevalence and appeal of racing games.) Epic recently announced that it would collaborate with GMC to provide HMI software for the 2022 Hummer EV pickup truck.

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