In what is likely to be an industry first, Ubisoft has teamed up with Renault to create a VR experience for passengers in an autonomous vehicle. That's according to a new video released to YouTube by Ubisoft, which highlights a new VR experience it has been working on within the scope of Renault's SYMBIOZ Demo Car project. Autonomous vehicles may not be capable of handling a drive completely on their own yet, but the joint venture between the French automaker and Ubisoft wants to be ready for when they can. Moreover, the experiences shown in the video may just be an indicator of the kinds of innovations to come when vehicles finally do reach level 5 autonomy.
Unlike previous attempts to tie VR in with the automotive industry, the two companies are not offering a simulated test-drive experience, either. Instead, the experience appears to be more akin to how virtual rollercoasters work. More directly, by working to utilize on-vehicle sensors, Ubisoft was able to provide riders in Renault's semi-autonomous vehicle with a simulated experience based on the sensations they feel while their vehicle is driving them around. Passengers are visually transported to a virtual world via a virtual reality headset but the extent of what the visuals show is keyed into how the passenger is physically moving through real space in their vehicle. In the video, which has been embedded below, the experiences can range from simulated travel along virtual roads to floating surreally through open space. That effectively means that riders can enjoy a new experience every time they take a trip, even if that trip is the same they take on a daily basis.
While self-driving vehicles have moved forward and that progress is expected to accelerate globally over the coming years, as of this writing they are nowhere near the degree of autonomy that would be required for riders to take their eyes off of the road. In fact, Renault's own test was conducted with a secondary system installed for the passenger seat so that another driver could take control if things went awry. As interesting – or horrifying – as the concept is, whether or not Ubisoft and Renault's vision for the future of in-car entertainment ever makes its way to reality remains to be seen.