Follow that ghost

jlr_urbanwindscreen_followmeghostcar-and-transparent-pillars_01_LowResWe love companies that take video game concepts and introduce them to the real world. Like Jaguar, for example – a few months back they announced they were developing a virtual windscreen.

The eggheads at Jaguar are at it again; this time it’s a ‘follow me ghost car’, a virtual projection of a car which basically shows you where to go. One of the first things we thought of when we saw it is the AI opponents in the likes of the Gran Turismo videogames. Though increased safety is the idea behind the new technology, you just know someone’s going to try to fiddle with the mechanics, and turn the ghost guide into a racing opponent.

But it’s a clever idea, and handy when you’re driving in unknown territory, and there’s a series of awkward turns, busy streets or hectic roundabouts. We’ve done it ourselves recently, and had to take the scenic route into Swords instead of barrelling up the M1. Live and learn, as they say.

“Driving on city streets can be a stressful experience, but imagine being able to drive across town without having to look at road signs, or be distracted trying to locate a parking space as you drive by,” said Dr Wolfgang Epple, the Director of Research and Technology with Jaguar Land Rover, whose name destined him for a lab coat and great things. “We want to present all of this information on a heads-up display in the driver’s eye-line, so the driver doesn’t have to seek it out for themselves and take their eyes off the road ahead.”

Jaguar’s main idea is safety and easier driving – this is part of a range of innovations they’re working on, which includes offering drivers 360° views of their surroundings despite the presence of pillars. They’re working around this by installing cameras in the pillars which take a live feed of areas the driver couldn’t normally see. Combined with a HUD, drivers could be made aware of other road users’ movements.

It seems like a great idea, so long as you remember to keep your eyes on the other cars on the road – it’d be a shame if you were so preoccupied with the virtual car that you smashed the nose of your lovely Jag into someone or something.

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