Audi Impresses with VR Test Drive, Giant 55-Inch Simulation Tablet

Sep 09, 2016 05:15 AM EDT | Jomar Teves

The change in mainstream vehicles over the past few years has been fast-paced. Instead of yesteryear's gas-guzzling diesel monster, today's new car is a computer with seats for four, grouped with sensors and screens and remote data links.

Some of this advancement could be viewed as digital decoration; playing one's music by means of Android Auto or CarPlay isn't that much of a development over Bluetooth, after all. However, a few efforts from automakers, like the most recent Advanced Driver AssistanceSystems, are our stepping stone into the world where our cars drive us.

Audi Speaks of Technological Prowess

As you might anticipate from Audi, a company that has been working with Oculus since 2013, VR plays a huge role. The most obvious application is to make a virtual showroom. And, indeed, a static demo utilizing Oculus and a more versatile version that uses HTC's Vive was unveiled. The Oculus setup was a more developed idea, proposed initially for the European market, where cars are generally more individually-specced than in the United States.

The Next Step for Audi

The Virtual Training Car doesn't lend itself well to customer-facing applications, however, which is where Audi's Virtual Engineering Terminal comes in. It's an enormous 55-inch touchscreen tabletop, combined with a wall-mounted monitor. Models of different Audis can be placed on top of the touchscreen, which specifically explains how various systems, such as traffic jam assist and Audi's clever matrix LED headlights work on the road.

Unfortunately, although the Virtual Engineering showroom is extremely cool to see live, the expense of such huge touchscreens implies that at present, only three could be manufactured. Just like consumer electronics, however, this is sure to change, and car fans wouldn't be shocked to see these setups starting to appear to the public, first at car expos and then in the local dealership.

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