To help developers and researchers develop apps and services for cars, Volvo Cars has launched a new Innovation Portal with useful new tools and resources.
One of the free resources on the Innovation Portal is a high-quality 3D model of the Volvo XC40 Recharge, which you can also experience for yourself in augmented reality.
The Volvo XC40 model was created in collaboration with Unity and offers developers and makers the ability to insert the car into AR experiences and applications, as well as VR and cinematic content, product apps and car configuration tools.
The 3D model is available through the Unity Hub, which can be accessed through Unity 2019.4 LTS or higher. Additionally, a sample virtual car showroom template is available for developers to play with.
“At Volvo Cars, we believe in sharing knowledge and we hope our work will inspire change for a better future and contribute to safer roads for all,” Timmy Ghiurau, Volvo Cars’ innovation leader for virtual experiences, said in a statement. “Together with Unity, we are delighted to demonstrate the great experiences that real-time 3D technology is possible in the automotive sector and beyond.”
This isn’t the first time Volvo has launched a 3D model of the XC40 over the internet as potential customers using Android smartphones can experience it along with the XC60, XC90 and S60 in 3D and AR via Google Search. Users can also view the cars in different paints or with different virtual backgrounds.
In addition to the 3D model, the Innovation Portal includes an Android Auto emulator for Android app development, Extended Vehicle APIs that allow apps to access car dashboard data (with driver permission), and a LiDAR dataset for use in refining of autonomous vehicle algorithms.
Volvo promises to add more tools and resources to the portal over time, including a “fully functional” 3D car model of the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD arriving later this year. The model can be seen on the Innovation Portal’s 3D page and includes vehicle dynamics behavior and a handful of customizable 3D scenes, making it even more ideal for AR and VR experiences. The site also offers virtual replicas of the car’s sensors, which researchers and students can use to conduct experiments with sensor data.
“Our cars are getting smarter and more connected, and with that, the demand for apps and services from our customers is increasing,” Henrik Green, Volvo Cars chief technology officer, said in a statement. “By making these resources public, we support developers inside and outside our company and partner with the best of the best in their field.”
While the intent of the portal is to ultimately improve the car owner’s experience, the benefits of the Innovation Portal serve as a library for anyone looking to tinker with apps and AR content. As you would expect, the terms and conditions prohibit the use of the 3D model for commercial purposes.
Volvo has shown increasing affinity with AR in recent years. In addition to making 3D vehicles available for display in Google Search, the automaker has also created virtual showroom experiences for the Microsoft HoloLens.
The demand for such 3D content within the automotive industry alone is evidenced by apps like Edmunds and games like CSR2, which allow users to visualize cars in their real world, as well as AR ads from BMW and Toyota.
With luck, Volvo’s generosity will encourage other car manufacturers to provide 3D models of their vehicles for public use.