Volvo launches Innovation portal, allowing external contributions to in-car software

Last Updated on February 1, 2021 by Anastasios Antoniadis

The portal offers free a wide range of aids and tools, allowing external developers to create innovative services and in-car applications.

With the help of broader software and service development for its products, Volvo Cars aim to significantly increase its customers' ability to adapt their Volvo to their personal preferences better.

The resources provided by the portal are useful not only for developers but also for researchers, smart-home solution installers, and computer-creating artists. By providing these capabilities, Volvo Cars continue its long tradition of sharing knowledge and research to contribute to safer roads for all.

“Our cars are becoming smarter, more secure, and as a result, our customers' needs for applications and services are increasing,” said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. “By making these resources available to everyone, we support developers inside and outside our company and work with top leaders in every field.”

Utilities available on the Innovation Portal include an emulator that recreates the Android Automotive Operating System and Google applications used in the new Volvo, giving developers an authentic in-car system experience on their computers. The Android Auto emulator is a useful tool to support app developers in designing, developing, testing, and publishing applications directly to Google Play in-car.

The platform also includes the Extended Vehicle API, making this the first time Volvo Cars has offered an API to the public.

With customer consent, the API allows developers and third parties to access instrument panel data, such as charge/fuel levels and distance traveled, and use them to create and deliver new services. Additional data and data sources will be available gradually.

Other resources include a LiDAR data set and a 3D production car model, the all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge, available for download.

The LiDAR dataset is being co-launched with Luminar, the world leader in automotive software, hardware technology, and Duke University. It was created using Luminar's high-performance LiDAR sensors, which detect objects around the car up to 250 meters away by scanning the environment with laser light pulses.

The data set can help researchers improve algorithms associated with LiDAR long-range detection, a critical element in creating autonomous vehicles that are safe at high speeds and in complex traffic environments.

The high-fidelity 3D car model was developed in collaboration with Unity, the company behind the world's leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D content. Unity is used by creators ranging from game developers to artists, architects, filmmakers, and car designers.

The car model and the accompanying 3D environment are suitable for application visualization, virtual reality, cinematic experiences, and car configurators. These resources are also available as essential tools on the Unity developer site, where millions of Unity users have access to instructional material for using the template.

The Innovation Portal will continue to grow, with more and more resources and tools being added gradually. In the coming months, a fully functional 3D car model will be available. It will include digital reproductions of the car's physical sensors to allow users to test the sensor data for research and educational purposes. Developers will also be able to use the model to build new features and services.

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