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Self-Driving Car Features Batman-Themed Immersive Entertainment

17 Jan 2019

Take an autonomous ride through a crime-ridden Gotham City during your everyday commute.

If – as seems increasingly likely – we’re moving towards a future that will include autonomous vehicles, what exactly will drivers be doing with all their newfound spare time while on the road?

That’s certainly a question that entertainment providers such as Warner Bros. are eager to answer. Time is money, after all, and idle people spend more keeping themselves entertained. That’s an existing market of around $200 billion that could potentially rise as consumers begin accessing in-vehicle applications and content.

Intel also estimates that the so-called “passenger economy” triggered by automation will eventually free more than 250 million hours of commuting time per year in the world’s most congested cities  alone.

During the recent CES 2019 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the two companies teamed up to give punters a glimpse of what the future could look like with the Intel Warner Bros. autonomous vehicle – a retrofitted 2019 BMW X5 equipped with a large-screen TV, projectors, mobile devices, sensory and haptic feedback, and immersive audio.

According to Marcie Miller, Intel’s Automotive Strategic Marketing Manager, the concept car delivers on a commitment the two companies made at the LA Auto Show in 2017 to explore the potential for next-generation entertainment in future autonomous vehicles. It also shows how autonomous cars will become a new kind of space and demonstrates the exciting potential for immersive entertainment in an autonomous driving world.

During the demonstration, passengers were taken on a virtual ride through the caped-crusaders hometown of Gotham City as 270-degree entertainment immerses riders throughout their real-world commute. Upon entering the vehicle, guests experienced in-cabin entertainment while becoming familiar with safety measures in place through five “chapters” beginning with a welcome message from Alfred (who else?) who introduces you to the experience as the city of Gotham passes by in the window as if you were actually driving down its crime-ridden streets.

Image Credit: Intel

In the following chapter the passengers were treated to several narrated comic book scenes presented across the cabin; viewers are engrossed by a captivating story as Batman and Killer Croc interact around them before Alfred politely informs the vehicles occupants of a road closure ahead. The point of the demonstration is that passengers are constantly informed with any changes or updates regarding their journey even if their eyes and ears are off the road.

Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS), Intel’s framework for helping autonomous vehicles operate safely, was also showcased during the experience via a dedicated screen in the cabin illustrating how a 360-degree safety-monitoring zone operates around a vehicle.

Image Credit: Intel

Chapter 4 plugs into the entertainment side of the experience, which of course is key objective for Warner Bros. The studio used this opportunity to display an immersive trailer of DC’s Aquaman specially adapted for the in-car 270-degree experience. You can also, the experience informs you, look up the nearest theaters showing the movie and buy your tickets before you even leave the car.

Once you’ve completed your journey, Alfred will interrupt the experience, informing passengers that they have arrived at their intended destination.

Image Credit: Intel

Both companies believe consumer trust is critical for advancing autonomous vehicles, and in order to foster that trust, people need to feel both a sense of control and safety alongside their entertainment. As for the actual content, the Batmobile was, to me, the original smart car, so the tie-in makes delightful sense.

Following CES, further research and development will be conducted on the vehicle in Burbank, California in a series of test drives that will gather real-world feedback from passengers throughout the year on the Warner Bros. Studio lot, so it might be a little while yet before you actually get to do your daily commute in one of these…

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