Panasonic displays new level of car controls

HUD with augmented reality moves instrument cluster to windshield

Published: January 6, 2017, 9:30 PM
Updated: January 10, 2017, 4:55 AM

Panasonic Automotive Head Up Display with Augmented Reality

Panasonic is taking head-up display to a new level, with the introduction of a system enhanced with augmented reality.

Calling it the future of driver displays, Panasonic Automotive’s Head Up Display (HUD) with Augmented Reality (AR) is a sophisticated system that follows Panasonic’s philosophy of developing systems not just for technology’s sake.

“Every day on our roads, drivers are subjected to multiple distractions,” says Andreas Heitmann, head of Panasonic’s Infotainment division in Europe. “At Panasonic we want to make the business of driving as enjoyable, safe and comfortable as possible, which is why we have developed this next-generation Head Up Display system.”

The new HUD with AR in effect takes the instrument cluster usually visible through the arch in the top half of the steering wheel and projects it (at a virtual distance of 10 meters) as very large virtual images right in front of the driver’s eyes. The company says the new display presents more information to drivers and can warn them of potential dangers.

Panasonic Automotive HUD monitor

Using eight cameras (rear, front, night vision, two to track the driver’s head and eyes, and three to monitor the vehicle sides), the system is able provide more information than the conventional head-up display. It can also alert drivers to obstacles or potential dangers, such as pedestrians or other vehicles.

The cameras that track the driver’s head and eyes automatically adjust the display to make sure the driver always has a perfectly-placed view, so when the driver’s head moves, the display automatically overlays things like the virtual danger labels on the actual physical objects in the road ahead.

Those images are initially located using the sides of the road for reference (via the side cameras). The cameras around the vehicle also contribute to an overhead “bird’s eye view” image of the car, so the driver can see obstacles around the vehicle during parking manoeuvres, also projected in front of the driver, with the side cameras acting as side mirrors to present side views to the driver.

The HUD with AR is presented in a concept interior that also features a steering wheel armed with touch controls to replace traditional stalks. The HUD alerts the driver to the operation and the system automatically turns off the control once the operation is completed.

Switching things such as radio stations would also use touch controls on the steering wheel, with the display on the windshield so the driver can navigate through the controls.

And to top it all off, the system can be applied to any new vehicle, and is fully configurable, allowing the layout to be changed to suit the driver’s preferences.