Volvo uses video game technology to build a safer car

With virtual reality, a wild full-body haptic suit and more, Volvo tests future technology in the digital world to maximize safety.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Volvo simulator

This is the future.


It's simply not possible to write off video games and the technologies that surround them. Not only because the tech is unwaveringly cool, but also because the technology is starting to creep into so many other areas of our lives -- and the automotive industry is starting to take notice.

Take , for example. On Thursday, the Swedish car builder detailed how it uses the latest video game technology to build safer cars. It seems like a stretch, but stick around and you'll see how it all comes together. And no, the process doesn't involve arcade racing. It's not that simple.

Volvo put together a combination of the latest mixed-reality headset from a Finnish firm named Varjo, a full-body haptic suit from Teslasuit and the Unity game engine. Yes the game engine that powers some of your favorite games also powers simulations Volvo engineers use all day.

With all three pieces, individuals strap in to drive a car in a simulated world. The Varjo headset can switch between mixed reality to show off potential overlays bound for production cars and active safety features, or it can drop you into a virtual world altogether. In the digital realm, engineers can test new safety systems without the potential for actual harm in the real world.

The possibilities for the scenarios are literally endless. All it requires is new programming, and engineers receive real-world feedback as they test safety technology and assist systems. For example, the Teslasuit monitors heart rate and provides the feeling of what would happen in the event of a crash without one actually occurring. That sounds kind of horrifying but it also provides valuable data in a totally safe environment.

These kinds of adaptation of technology from the video game industry are likely just the beginning. And as automakers and other companies continue their march toward automated driving, we're likely to see the gamification aspect of things only increase.

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