Hologram HUD lets drivers ‘see through’ hazards

UK researchers are developing a heads-up display (HUD) for drivers that uses 3D holograms to represent hazards and road signs which are obstructed from view.

University of Cambridge

The system collects data via LiDAR and then uses an augmented reality holographic point cloud video projection system to display images aligned with real-life objects in size and distance. Unlike other HUD technologies, it’s claimed the holographic projections allow drivers to keep their attention on the road rather than the windscreen. The research is published in Advanced Optical Materials.

“The idea behind a head-up display is that it keeps the driver’s eyes up, because even a fraction of a second not looking at the road is enough time for a crash to happen,” said Jana Skirnewskaja, a doctoral student at Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, who led the study.

“However, because these are two-dimensional images, projected onto a small area of the windscreen, the driver can be looking at the image, and not at the road ahead of them.”

The system was tested by scanning Malet Street on the University College London campus in central London. Information from the LiDAR point cloud was transformed into layered 3D holograms, consisting of as many as 400,000 data points. Importantly, the team was able to refine the scanning process so that the holograms were generated and projected in real-time, meaning dynamic information on changing busy streets could be accurately displayed.

“The data we collected can be shared and stored in the cloud, so that any drivers passing by would have access to it – it’s like a more sophisticated version of the navigation apps we use every day to provide real-time traffic information,” said Skirnewskaja.

“This way, the system is dynamic and can adapt to changing conditions, as hazards or obstacles move on or off the street.”

The research was undertaken at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems, supported in part by the Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft. Skirnewskaja and her colleagues are now collaborating with Google to develop the technology so that it can trialled in real vehicles in 2024.