Stereoscopic representation and real-time 3D for Daimler Research (a retrospective)

The illustrations show an early stage of a research prototype from 2006. The vehicle HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) was rendered in 3D at runtime and displayed on a stereoscopic display. Nowadays, driver assistance systems with two-dimensional representation show weaknesses in the representation of current conditions from the real world.

A digital representation is necessary, for example, in night vision systems and can also be very useful for further assistance and comfort systems such as in navigation systems, adaptive track and distance control systems as well as for emergency braking systems.

Using three-dimensional elements and also establishing an extra dimension enable a new level of organization for content. For spatial representations, Daimler Research developed an auto-stereoscopic display that was integrated into the cockpit of one of their research vehicles. Three-dimensional objects showing their depths are rendered in real time. Thus the pictures and perspectives can be adjusted to real-world axis data via the car’s sensor network. This implies that there is a great advantage for the driver since he/she can perceive and interpret the content easier and faster. This reduces stress and makes it easier to concentrate on the task of driving. Further research is needed to quantify the insights, but it seems quite evident that the new technology will have a significantly positive effect on safety.

The 3D performance was provided by PCs with powerful (at that time) graphics cards that filled the trunk. We were thrilled by the user experience and the new quality of HMI representation.

The current trends in augmentation, VR (Virtual Reality) and consumer gadgets, such as the Oculus Rift, show the emerging level of maturity of 3D HMI systems. We experienced a real USP (Unique Selling Point) for the driver. From the perspective of the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) this shows another good reason to continue with the research and development of hardware and software for automotive HMIs (despite Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). It remains key to defining the next benchmark of driving experience.

Case Studies