In the new world in which we live, VR could become our go to for many matters. If you fancy taking a plunge into the future, why not book yourself in for a virtual test drive? It seems our trusted motor sales industry have already had a premonition and decided this is what we’ll need.
Several manufacturers have developed their own programs that can be used with the VR, and in some cases AR technology for their showrooms and at home. For those of us still very much in the real world, AR, or augmented reality relies on real world objects to create the reality.
With Skoda’s AR app all you need is a car parked outside, a phone, the app and supporting headset (Google Cardboard will do). Mix them all together and you can get in and sit in any of their range. So, not only do you experience what it feels like to sit in, look around or walk around the vehicle, you can do this from your own home.
Enter the Sandbox
Back in 2017 Audi took a different approach entirely. They ran their “Enter the Sandbox” campaign using a full driving simulator rig. Here you could design your own track, then have a drive round it in the new Q5.
Designing your track was as simple as making lines in the sand. By carving hills and tracks into a physical sandbox, the layout was then transferred to the program and rendered, using a depth sensing camera. You then immersed yourself into the VR world and drove around your creation.
It was also Audi that paved the way for virtual test drives. As early as 2016 you could check out their whips using VR technology at a number of their showrooms.
Have a SEAT at Home
SEAT have taken a different approach again, offering a virtual showroom where you connect to the sales rep via the medium of video call. Not quite the exhilarating sandbox experience Audi were pedalling, but still an answer to what was a tough year for car sales with the pandemic.
Porsche have teamed up with Holoride who previously developed virtual reality environments based on users sitting in cars. Porsche will be offering both VR and AR experiences at showrooms in the near future.
For now, you can check their progress using your own headset at home with a VR experience, or see their Mission E on your own drive using AR technology.
As for us, we’re not fully convinced. A test drive should be just that, a drive. As technology continues to snowball though, who knows how good the VR and AR experiences of the future will become. One day, you might be able to join us on a track day, without actually joining us on a track day.
Beam me up, Scotty.