The technology company Continental recently revealed an industry-first full-color demonstrator of an automotive-specific Head-up Display (HUD) based on waveguide technology. This demonstrator is the result of the joint development with DigiLens Inc., one of the leading experts in projection technology enabled by switchable holographic gratings.
HUDs with graphic augmentations in a real-world view offer intuitive driver support. Embedding the augmentations in the real world makes the driver immediately understand where their attention is required and why. For instance, virtual turn-by-turn navigation signs on the road make driving safer and easier.
During automated driving, an AR-HUD can make the vehicle’s “sensing” and “planning” transparent. As an AR-HUD requires the option to embed augmentations in the complete forward field of view of the driver, the use of mirrors inside the instrument, which is state-of-the-art today, leads to AR-HUD instrument volumes of around 30 liters – too much for most dashboards.
The new Continental AR-HUD with waveguide technology significantly reduces the packaging size. With this new, innovative technology, Continental achieves an augmentation area of 15° x 5° (= 2,60 meters x 0,87 meters at a projection distance of 10 meters) while bringing down device size to a mere 10 liters magnitude. At that level, device integration becomes possible in many vehicles.
Up until very recently, AR-HUD development was still generally based on mirror technology, like in the windscreen HUD. However, what works well in the HUD is not an option for the AR-HUD, because the display area of a conventional HUD is small by comparison.
While a conventional windscreen HUD has a volume of 3 to 4 liters, mirror technology inevitably leads to spatial AR-HUD capacities that can be around 30 liters, which is almost ten times as much.
That is also why Continental entered into a strategic partnership with the waveguide HUD expert DigiLens, located in Silicon Valley, in 2016 and increased this participation in 2018. The joint development work has now produced the first full-color demonstrator, which uses three flat waveguides stacked over one another to create the RGB color space – and no mirrors.
Continental´s demonstrator enables augmentations within a field of 2,60 meters x 0,87 meters at a projection distance of 10 meters and solves the previous size issue of the AR-HUD. Over the course of ongoing development, further necessary requirements to the vehicle application will be met individually.