General Motors has announced that its recently revealed Hummer EV will be the first vehicle to use games developer Epic Games’s Unreal Engine for its digital cockpit.
“We have a dedicated team of artists and engineers who have been working to support new features for HMI,” said François Antoine, director of HMI and embedded systems, Epic Games. “As we move toward Level 5 vehicle autonomy, in-car infotainment systems will become more and more relevant to influencing consumer purchase decisions, and Unreal Engine will bring new levels of flexibility, interactivity and visual fidelity to these next generation systems.”
According to Epic, Unreal Engine breaks free from traditional HMI workflows and provides key features for design-driven development. These include support for version control, visual scripting via Blueprints, and direct access to a C++ codebase that enables more and more functionality to be exposed. Rather than passively producing reference images for engineers to implement, this enables designers to directly collaborate with engineers and actively deploy designs into the vehicle.
Epic notes that as Unreal Engine is already used for car configurators and marketing operations by automotive companies, existing projects, assets and pipelines can be reused with little effort for HMI systems, only requiring the mobile optimization of assets.
Conversely, assets created by teams working on HMI can later be repurposed for use in marketing materials. Once optimized, these assets can be used to target mobile applications or companion apps. Ultimately, this makes for more efficient use of company resources, and keeps designs consistent across an entire brand.