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Panasonic develops next-gen augmented reality head-up display

By Tom Fraser, 14 Jan 2021 Car News

panasonic augmented reality hud

Panasonic has enhanced functionality of the head-up display through AI and augmented reality integration

Electronics company Panasonic has used the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show to display a futuristic augmented reality head-up display (HUD). 

Designed to build upon systems found in cars today, the augmented reality HUD uses artificial intelligence to detect and highlight potential hazards like pedestrians, cyclists, bridges or a vehicle suddenly appearing.

The Panasonic Automotive arm of the technology firm says that with the advent of autonomous driving comes a reduced driver focus on information and surroundings, prompting its engineers to create a new HUD that can project graphics on a car’s windscreen relative to its surroundings.

The artificial intelligence-driven system uses 4K resolution displays to project information that the AI deems important into the driver’s line of sight. The system goes far beyond today's HUDs that show little more than vehicle speed and satnav instructions. 

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The Panasonic AR HUD can do all the basics such as speed and satnav instructions. It can also project 3D images into the distance to highlight obstacles or enhance those navigation instructions, all without requiring driver involvement. 

The bottom half of the display shows regular HUD information like speed, speed limits and a rev counter. The top half of the display is designed to show information in unison with the car’s surroundings.

Navigation directions can be projected metres ahead onto the road. It can highlight potential driving hazards like narrow bridges and errant cars entering your pathway.

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Panasonic’s augmented reality HUD can track the driver’s eyes to ensure the display is aligned with head and eye position. It features vibration control with image stabilisation derived from the brand’s camera division, and has real-time situational awareness that can update images in three-tenths of a second.

“The HUD market is one of the fastest-growing categories in mobility, but traditional HUDs only cover a small section of the road,” said Scott Kirchner, president Panasonic Automotive of the new system.

“Panasonic’s AR HUD solutions cover more of the roadway, with traditional cluster content like speed and fuel in the near field as well as 3D overlays in the far field, showing navigation and other critical driver data mapping spatially to the road ahead.

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“And in a future with more self-driving vehicles, our AR HUD could provide an important added level of comfort and assurance for [autonomous vehicle] passengers as well.”

Like many of the technologies presented at CES, no official date has been given by Panasonic for mass production of vehicles using the tech. Envisics, a partner of the augmented reality HUD project, told ETAuto that we’ll start to see the tech integrated into vehicles from 2023.