For the Volvo Enthusiast

Volvo Creates VR Goggles to Use While Driving

In partnership with Finnish tech company Varjo, Volvo has unveiled a new virtual reality headset that it hopes to use to speed up the design process.

By donning a set of virtual reality goggles, test drivers can get behind the wheel of a real car and test designs and ideas that are still on the drawing board, according to Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer.

“Instead of the usual static way of evaluating new products and ideas, we can test concepts on the road immediately,” says Green. “This approach offers considerable potential cost savings by identifying priorities and clearing bottlenecks much earlier in the design and development process.”

The goggles, named XR-1, uses high def cameras to render a photorealistic video feed into the wearer’s field of vision. By adding digitally constructed images of new designs and technologies to the feed, the interior of the car is effectively turned into a holodeck.

According to Volvo, this is a first for carmakers and the technology will allow it to streamline design. Better still, the goggles can track the wearer’s eyes, meaning that Volvo will be able to track not just how useful a technology is, but how distracting it is, too—that’s important for a company that prides itself on safety.

All of which means that Volvo will be able get good ideas to customers faster and keep bad ideas out of its cars.

Although Varjo is an independent company, it is one of many that Volvo’s venture capital arm has invested in heavily. Volvo has announced that its investment in the Varjo will increase to help the companies collaborate even better.

“Varjo is a clear leader in its field,” says Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “The company’s technology promises a lot for the future, but also offers clear applications already today for Volvo Cars. Varjo is a textbook example of the type of companies we seek to invest in.”