In a recent update on Twitter, Elon Musk revealed that the next-generation Tesla Roadster would feature an “Augmented Mode” that is designed to enhance drivers’ abilities when operating the all-electric supercar.
Musk’s update came as a response to acclaimed YouTube tech reviewer and Tesla owner-enthusiast Marques Brownlee, who inquired if the next-generation Roadster will have Autopilot. Musk promptly responded, confirming the intelligent driver-assist feature and teasing one of the all-electric supercar’s unique capabilities.
Definitely. Will also have Augmented Mode that will massively enhance human driving ability. Like a flying metal suit, but in car form …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 8, 2018
While Musk’s mention of Augmented Mode and flying metal suits immediately drew references and comparisons to Marvel’s Iron Man and Tony Stark, Tesla has actually been laying the groundwork for integrating augmented reality technology into its electric cars for years. The electric car and energy company, for one, has been amassing talent with experience in the emerging field.
Back in late 2016, Tesla hired Andrew Kim as a Lead Designer at the company’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, CA. Prior to this employment at Tesla, Kim worked for Microsoft, where he helped develop the HoloLens headset, a holographic computer that allows users to see and interact with holograms within an environment.
When Microsoft launched the device back in 2016, the company demoed several uses for the headset, from gaming to holographic conferencing. In the auto industry, Volvo opted to use the HoloLens as a means for potential customers to interact with its vehicles. According to a Trusted Reviews report, the legacy automaker also expects to use the augmented reality technology in its future self-driving car initiatives.
Kim’s LinkedIn profile currently notes that his work at Tesla involves “leading experiences” in Model S, X, 3, Semi, Roadster, and Y, as well as “confidential future products and experiences.” Considering that Tesla’s vehicles are known for being on the bleeding edge of automotive technology, it is not difficult to speculate that the next-generation Roadster’s Augmented Mode could involve the incorporation of holographic images that can provide information such as suggested routes, driving tips, and safety warnings to drivers when operating the vehicle, similar to the technology showcased by Hyundai during CES 2015.
Augmented features are actually a perfect match to the all-electric supercar’s interior design. As could be seen in the prototype unveiled last November and the company’s quarterly all-hands promo video, the next-generation Roadster’s dashboard is almost just as, if not more minimalistic, than the Model 3. If any, the next-gen Roadster’s sparse dashboard provides ample space for Tesla to incorporate augmented reality technology.
The next-gen Tesla Roadster is nothing short of a beast. The all-electric supercar’s base variant, for one, already breaks several records, with a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 8.9 seconds, 10,000 Nm of torque, a range of 620 miles thanks to a 200 kWh battery, and a top speed of more than 250 mph. During Tesla’s 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting, Musk announced that a SpaceX option would be available for the next-gen Roadster, which would push the capabilities of the electric car even further.
Considering the raw power of the upcoming all-electric supercar, there will only be very few drivers who could properly operate the next-gen Roadster to its full potential. Pushing a car with a top speed of more than 250 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds at its base trim, after all, requires skill and reflexes that the average driver simply does not have, or at least was not trained to hone. Thus, features such as Augmented Mode would likely be a welcome feature for many future owners of the next-generation Roadster.
Tesla is steadily increasing its marketing efforts for the next-generation Roadster. During the Tesla’s 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting, a stunning white variant of the all-electric supercar was unveiled. Last month, Elon Musk also announced that test drives for the vehicle would begin sometime near the end of next year.
Here’s a demonstration of Hyundai’s use of augmented reality technology for its vehicles in CES 2015.