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Augmented reality heads-up displays for cars are finally a real thing

Enlarge / An example of what the Mercedes-Benz augmented reality HUD looks like in action. You can see here it’s showing the driver they need to take a left turn. (credit: Mercedes-Benz)

When Audi briefed Ars on its newest electric car, the part that most piqued our interest was the news that the Q4 e-tron Sportback will feature an augmented reality heads-up display. As we explained in that article, Audi didn’t feel like elaborating much on the new technology. Perhaps it wishes it had, as it’s going to be beaten to the punch by its deadly rival Mercedes-Benz. When the 2021 S-Class debuts in September, the brand’s flagship sedan will offer an AR HUD, among other tech upgrades.

The automaker has even been forthcoming with some technical info on this latest driver assist. It uses a digital mirror device from Texas Instruments—perhaps no surprise given that TI has been developing automotive AR tech for a while now. The DMD has a resolution of 1.3 megapixels (or megamirrors, to be strictly accurate) and projects onto a 10˚ horizontal, 5˚ vertical aperture HUD, with the image appearing 33 feet (10m) away. (Mercedes-Benz says it’s the equivalent of a 77-inch monitor.)

Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t shared any still images of the AR HUD in action, and there were only a few seconds of video in the b-roll that the company provided. But the automaker did helpfully tweet out a longer video this morning, which we’ve embedded below, as it really is the best way to see how the system works. (If the embedded tweet isn’t showing up for you, you can view it here.)

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