News: Volvo Teams with Unity to Let You Test Out the XC40 SUV in AR, Launches Developer Innovation Portal

Volvo Teams with Unity to Let You Test Out the XC40 SUV in AR, Launches Developer Innovation Portal

To assist developers and researchers in their efforts to create apps and services for automobiles, Volvo Cars has launched a new Innovation Portal with useful new tools and assets.

Among the free resources featured on the Innovation Portal is a high-quality 3D model of the Volvo XC40 Recharge, which you can also experience yourself in augmented reality.

The Volvo XC40 model was created in collaboration with Unity and offers developers and creators the ability to insert the automobile into AR experiences and applications, as well as into VR and cinematic content, product apps, and car configuration tools.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

The 3D model is available through the Unity Hub, which is accessible through Unity 2019.4 LTS or later. In addition, a preview of a virtual auto showroom template is available for developers to play with.

"At Volvo Cars, we believe in knowledge sharing and we hope our work inspires changes for a better future and contributes to safer roads for all," said Timmy Ghiurau, innovation leader for virtual experiences at Volvo Cars, in a a statement. "Together with Unity, we're excited to showcase the amazing experiences that are possible with real-time 3D technology in automotive and beyond."

Image via Volvo

This isn't the first time Volvo has unleashed a 3D model of the XC40 via the web, as prospective customers using Android smartphones can experience it, along with the XC60, XC90, and S60 in 3D and AR through Google Search. Users can also view the cars in various paint finishes or with different virtual backgrounds.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Along with the 3D model, the Innovation Portal includes an Android Auto emulator for developing Android apps, Extended Vehicle APIs that give apps access to car dashboard data (with the driver's permission), and a LiDAR data set for use in fine-tuning autonomous vehicle algorithms.

Volvo promises to continue adding more tools and resources to the portal over time, including a "fully-functional" 3D car model of the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD arriving later this year. Previewed on the 3D page of the Innovation Portal, the model will include vehicle dynamics behavior along with a handful of customizable 3D scenes, making it even more ideal for AR and VR experiences. The site will also offer virtual replicas of the car's sensors, which will enable researchers and students to run experiments on sensor data.

Virtual Volvo XC40 Recharge (left) and an actual Honda Pilot. Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

"Our cars are becoming increasingly smarter and more connected, and with that comes a growing demand for apps and services among our customers," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars, in a statement. "By making these resources publicly available, we support developers in- and outside our company, and collaborate with the best of the best in their fields."

While the intent of the portal is to ultimately improve the car owner's experience, the Innovation Portal's benefits serve as a library for anyone who wants to tinker with apps and AR content. However, as one would expect, terms and conditions prohibit the use of the 3D model for commercial purposes.

Image via Volvo

Volvo has increasingly demonstrated its affinity for AR in recent years. In addition to making 3D vehicles available for viewing in Google Search, the automaker has also created virtual showroom experiences for the Microsoft HoloLens.

The demand for such 3D content within the auto industry alone is evidenced by apps like Edmunds and games like CSR2,which enable users to visualize cars in their real-world environments, as well as AR ads from BMW and Toyota.

With any luck, Volvo's largess will encourage other automakers to provide 3D models of their vehicles for public use.

Cover image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

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