Epic games uses Rivian R1T to showcase Unreal Engine 5.2

Max McDee, 23 March 2023

The integration of mobile phones and electric cars is increasing with every passing day. While some EV manufacturers - we are looking at you, Volkswagen - believe the late 90s graphics and clunky user interface are fine, companies like Rivian have already understood software matters at least as much as hardware.

Unreal Engine has been changing the world of graphics at quite some speed. It wasn’t long before the automotive industry started using it for its own purposes. It started with a virtual presentation, and marketing materials, but eventually Unreal Engine is making its way into the cars themselves.

Volkswagen has a lot of catching up to do Volkswagen has a lot of catching up to do

Rivian and Volvo were the first companies to partner up with Epic Games and use its Unreal Engine for in-car infotainment. The difference between thir products and VW’s in-house developed graphics and animations is staggering - the UE-powered interface feels decades ahead.

Now Epic Games used Rivian R1T in its latest presentation to showcase progress made with the version 5.2 of its Unreal Engine. A short video posted to YouTube looks nothing like 3D computer-generated content - it looks real, the vehicle and the environment respond in real-time to each other and the whole experience is breathtaking.

Do we need such detailed graphics in the car? Absolutely yes, the user interface has become an inseparable part of the entire vehicle experience. Some graphics are shockingly bad, and some come with a wow factor that quickly wears off and we get bored of it. But life-like animations and high-quality images will always impress. Getting in an EV every day, that greets you with a ‘wow’ image instead of a ‘meh’ animation, makes the driver feel better about the money spent on the car.

Electric cars can be considered computers on wheels and some manufacturers realize that better than others. Tesla cars are offering full gaming capabilities, and all the latest car infotainment is powered by either Nvidia chips or the latest Snapdragons. With big screens in pretty much every car nowadays, it makes sense to not only be able to play games but play them with the highest possible quality.

CGI at its best CGI at its best

Unreal Engine is becoming a tool of choice for in-car graphics developers. It is a completely new field in the automotive industry and it’s not too different from game design. Many game designers transition to vehicle design and many car graphics designers progress to game development. The two worlds are slowly becoming one.



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