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Continental's Augmented Reality HUD puts information on the road


August 5, 2014

The Continental AR-HUD prototype brings augmented reality to the windshield

The Continental AR-HUD prototype brings augmented reality to the windshield

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Displaying your speed on the windshield can be handy for keeping under the speed limit, but Continental is taking things to the next level with its Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HUD) prototype. In addition to showing your current speed, the system can overlay information on the road specifically where it is most relevant to the driver, such as the distance to the car in front, when to make a turn, or even upcoming driving conditions.

The system draws data from the vehicle's camera and radar and combines it with the vehicle's dynamics data, digital maps and GPS positioning, which is used to create a model of the external view of the car as seen from the driver's perspective. This allows the system to project the augmented information onto the windscreen at the correct visual point for the driver.

The system overlays full-color graphics on the real road view in a 130 cm (51 in) wide by 60 cm (23 in) high section of the driver's field of vision at an optical-equivalent distance of 7.5 m (24 ft). The Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) technology used in this system is claimed to be the same as that used for digital cinema devices, such as the Odin Handy Projector.

As part of this system, navigation symbols – such as turns – are directly incorporated in the forward field of view, so that the driver doses not have to look away to a GPS device located elsewhere in the vehicle. Similarly, when distance controls such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) are enabled, a crescent-shaped icon displayed by the AR-HUD denotes which vehicle in the field of view is detected by the assistance system and the driver is kept alerted to any stray movements from their own vehicle line by an incorporated lane-monitoring alert.

"In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, the AR-HUD relieves the burden on the driver with a new quality of information," says Helmut Matschi, a member of the Executive Board at Continental. "In the augmentation, we are connecting what the driver's eyes see with explanatory information. 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."

Developed from previous HUD systems that are currently incorporated in many European cars, the new system is in an advanced stage of development and has already been integrated into a demonstration vehicle. However, unlike other systems that are being developed for racing vehicles – such as Jaguar's Virtual Windscreen – which require specific race-track telemetry to provide information on other vehicles, the Continental AR-HUD collects its data using standard on-board electronics systems.

Continental is planning to have a production-ready version of its AR-HUD available in 2017 for purchase by automakers for incorporation in their production model vehicles.

Source: Continental

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf. All articles by Colin Jeffrey

The GPS mapping, complete with speed limits, should be in the hands of the local authorities so that temporary features such as speed restrictions, diversions, road works, traffic accidents etc. can be included and removed (downloaded on a cellular basis in real time by their highways departments.)

If the fly-by-wire throttle/speed potentiometer signal is then linked to this system, worrying about speed limits would be a thing of the past. (It should also lead to hefty discounts on accident insurance.)

Whilst I cannot see autonomous cars lasting long in the real world simply because there are too many unknowns, many of which are Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns, taking the best of systems like this and marrying it to the best of autonomous vehicle systems should give us a much better driving experience in the not too distant future.

Mel Tisdale

Every car should be built with a HUD, they are fantastic. We have one in our 2007 5-series BMW and when we have looked at possible replacement cars, the first thing we look for is to see if it has a HUD. As well as the usual speed, cruise control and other information, the fact that you can see all the turn-by-turn navigation information without taking your eyes off the road is worth its weight in gold. If you have a chance to get a car with or without a HUD I recommend that you spend the extra as you will not be sorry.


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Stephen Russell
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