Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

I’M sitting in the driver’s seat of a new BMW M2.
The 453bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six engine
is idling away in front of me with bassy menace – and the
experience is made all the more pulse-quickening by the
fact that, although I can see my outstretched arms and
hands resting on the sporty steering wheel, above that
my field of view is dominated not by the outside world
and an expanse of tarmac in front of me, but a digital
depiction of a racetrack projected onto the screen of the
Virtual Reality goggles I’m wearing.
In a minute my instructor is going to ask me to floor the
throttle and unleash the M2’s performance to try and set a
lap time around the aforementioned track. The car will be
moving in time and space – I will be driving it and making
inputs with the steering wheel and pedals – except I can’t
see anything of the real, physical environment in front of
me. Welcome to BMW’s M Mixed Reality demonstrator.
The technology has been developed in conjunction with
Epic Games and uses a set of VR goggles linked to a sensor
mounted on the M2’s dashboard that tracks probes fixed to
the headset and works out where the driver is looking and
therefore what to show on the display screen. BMW says:
“The system takes all movement and rotary axes of the
BMW M2 into account. The vehicle itself becomes the
controller, in this case the fastest controller in the world.”
It’s still at the working prototype stage, but even this early
test of the technology shows how advanced the system is.
Initially, the goggles are blank and you can see through
them, albeit with a blurry edge to your vision. I’m asked to
drive to a pre-determined point by the M engineer behind
the project, Alexander Kuttner. This location is GPSprogrammed
into the device and once I reach this point,
this is where the world changes in front of my eyes – from
the wintery-looking bleak, grey airfield surroundings outside
Munich to a bright, neon-lit world of virtual reality.
My initial reaction is that it looks like a cross between
the computer games Mario Kart, Sonic and Wipeout (can
you tell I’m a nineties child?). The graphics aren’t exactly
super-slick, with some pixelation to the digital world, but
there’s absolutely no latency as I move my head and
explore the new world in front of me out of the windscreen.
The picture snaps from left to right with no lag, and
it’s initial signs such as this and the way the software
interpolates the view of my hands, the steering wheel and
the car’s A-pillars with the digital environment that give me
confidence that I’m not going to crash immediately once I
accelerate away from the line. The clock ticks down: 3 – 2 –

  1. The lights go from red to green and I bury the throttle, the

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