10 Jan 2019

Nissan's shows Invisible-to-Visible concept

AR tech will show drivers what they can't really see
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I2V might be as complex an option as you'll ever find on a car.

Japanese automotive giant Nissan unveiled its Invisible-to-Visible car technology at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, which has recently become the stage for car makers to debut cutting edge technology.

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Conceived by Nissan at its own technology Research Centre, I2V is augmented reality for the car, fed by vehicle sensors and live infrastructure data that creates a Metaverse of mixed reality and digital assistants.

Adding complexity to the system, Nissan says I2V spawns its own new AR ecosystems such as Omni-Sensing, Traverse-Agents, virtual personal assistants and avatars.

“By merging our world with the virtual world, called the Metaverse, we can create the ultimate connected-car experience,” says Nissan technology expert, Tetsuro Ueda.

But the crux of the system is in its name, making what a human driver can’t see – the invisible – visible. Data feeds for traffic beyond simple congestion maps bring a new layer of information for the driver, showing a virtual representation of cars that are backed up around a corner ahead and indicating which lane is flowing best.

All of this data is presented as graphics overlayed on real life, though so far demonstrated with the driver needing to wear a virtual reality headset.

“I2V takes that data and adds a higher level of detail from data collected by Omni-Sensing technology,” says Ueda.

“For example, not only can we get information about traffic congestion ahead; we can know why it’s congested, what’s the best lane to take, and what are the possible alternative routes to avoid the area altogether. Having this knowledge, the knowledge of the unknown ahead, can ease driving stress.”

It promises to deliver better road safety and more efficient commuting by finding a parking spot the driver can’t see, parking the car autonomously, and having the climate control automatically roving to changing weather conditions.

Beyond near-future implications are what I2V’s potential capabilities are in a fully-autonomous vehicle. Bringing in avatars that have so far been shown as Japanese anime, and AI-driven Traverse-Agents (agent-type avatars offering services through the Metaverse), Nissan says travel experiences can be shared with other real-life people not in the car (shown as avatars) and enhanced with services offered by AI-learning Traverse-Agents (also shown as various avatars)

‘The agent-type avatars offering services through the Metaverse – we call them Traverse-Agents – differ entirely as they emphasise interaction between people, rather than efficiency,” Ueda explains.

“VPAs (virtual personal assistants) serve as functional assistants. Traverse-Agents, meanwhile, don’t stop at functionality and are instead a partner in the mobile vehicle space. This concept fully utilises a multitude of I2V sensing technology, such as Omni-Sensing, which gathers data from traffic infrastructure and sensors around the vehicle and the Metaverse to meet a variety of needs. These can range from a casual conversation partner to driving guidance, language study, business and personal consulting and counselling, all done in the same shared space as the user.”

Ueda explains the system is a continuation of the SAM concept Nissan unveiled at CES 2017, and there is potential for other users (avatars) to take control of the vehicle during ‘shared driving’ moments, though unlikely to be enabled. However, a virtual avatar ‘friend’ could play around with the air conditioning controls in the car.

“In autonomous driving conditions, we envision a special operator having the ability to give instructions to automated-driving vehicles, along the lines of the SAM concept announced by us at CES 2017. But we’re not thinking about transferring control of driving (accelerator, brake and steering) operations. It might be possible to share functions other than those involved in driving, such as operating the air conditioner or infotainment system, in order to enhance the presence and quality of the shared travel experience.

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