It’s like in a James Bond movie: you get into a car with no windows, but you can still see the whole world around you from the driver’s seat.
That’s the promise of the Honeywell 360 Display, a mixed-reality headset that combines data from vehicle-mounted sensors and cameras to give you a complete view of your surroundings, even if you have low or no visibility.
The brainchild of Honeywell Aerospace, the helmet was designed for military vehicles where visibility can be poor – think armored cars or off-road vehicles driving in hazardous environments. But the technology is designed to be “sensor independent”, meaning it can be adapted to virtually any vehicle.
“It takes sensor inputs from cameras, speedometers – pretty much anything that can be displayed or has a sensor on the vehicle – and it feeds that into our screen,” said Julie Heck, senior director of product management at Honeywell.
“We’re really creating a virtual 360-degree view dome. So it’s all blacked out, but you’re sitting in the car and you can drive it. You basically feel like you’re driving in a convertible.”
The 360 screen was originally developed in a first version of the prototype for DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program in 2018. This iteration used physical displays and head-tracking technology and was installed in a jury-rigged all-terrain vehicle with a covered canopy. According to DARPA, riders using the prototype in the blacked-out ATV were able to ride a test course “at approximately the same time” as those riding a normal ATV.
After this first prototype, Honeywell refined the technology and reduced the display from a full configuration of physical screens to a single helmet with a flip-up visor. The company tested the 360 display in a Hummer H1, equipped with sensors, cameras, and infrared night vision that all powered the display. Rather than looking out the window or at screens in front of the steering wheel, the Hummer driver sees a stereoscopic view of the world outside the car, superimposed on things like speed, topography and distance to waypoints. mark.
The system also creates a top-down “drone view” of the vehicle in the context of its surroundings. And according to Heck, if a vehicle has cameras underneath, “you can actually look through the floor and see the ground.”
Although Honeywell is currently developing the 360 display for military ground vehicles, it is already considering other use cases, such as mining, firefighting and construction – anywhere a driver needs to “move in safely in a low visibility or hazardous environment”.
The company also says there are applications in shipping (where sonar could be powered to show underwater hazards) or aviation. In a future where the airspace becomes increasingly crowded with drones and electric vertical take-off and landing, or EVTOL, autonomous electric vehicles, the 360 display could allow human pilots to safely navigate the skies and know the exact distance and location of other aircraft.
And according to Heck, this display could make life on the road easier for regular drivers.
“It could very well be adapted to mainstream vehicles. You put on a visor, or maybe someday in the future a pair of goggles, and you can have your speedometer, your navigation, your stereo controls… right in your line of sight.”
To see the Honeywell 360 display in action, watch the video embedded in this article.