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VR in the Driver’s Seat

Renault introduces a new car that drives itself and entertains you with VR.

We’ve all been there: fantasizing about foreign places while driving, imagining we are somewhere else, like the vibrant streets of Tokyo or a wooden glen road. Now, you can be transported right there—behind the wheel—with VR.

Renault, with the help of Ubisoft and a few million dollars, has created a new VR simulation you actually experience while driving. Users put on the headset, which is paired with the car’s real front-facing motion sensors to reimagine the image of the road in front of you.

Renault’s vision is that with autonomous, self-driving cars soon approaching the consumer market, this experience could be an entertaining experience since the focus no longer has to be on manning the wheel.

“The Symbioz is our early interpretation of how the new technologies related to autonomous and new experiences in a car will come to market,” Renault-Nissan Senior VP Ogi Redzik told Engadget. “We’re using this vehicle as an opportunity to learn…to find out how else you can engage with the vehicle when you’re not focused on driving.”

Currently, the car is not totally autonomous (it’s a Level 3), but Renault is still configuring the car and the experience. So when operating it currently, similar to a driver’s training car, someone else rides in the passenger seat and can take over control of the car in case of an emergency.

In order to prevent motion-sickness—which can be a byproduct of both driving and VR— the experience uses the car’s data in real time to navigate the experience. Most of the experiences at this moment appear to all be car-based, like driving through different landscapes and city scenes. But there are exceptions, like this one below where the users fly through a magical landscape.

The experience seems to be a luxury not likely to hit the consumer market anytime soon, but it does paint an interesting vision for revolutionary applications of the future’s VR.

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