01 June 2024
Experiencing The Future Of Driving With MINI Mixed Reality

MINI debuted its “MINI Mixed Reality” technology at the international media launch of the all-new MINI Cooper Electric in Sitges, Spain.

And I was seriously impressed with what they have come up with.

Essentially, the new technology enables drivers to immerse themselves in an augmented virtual world, while still being able to drive and be behind the wheel.

This is achieved by a pioneering pair of virtual reality goggles paired with precision GPS tracking.

Only two MINI Cooper Electrics in the entire world (at the time of writing) are equipped with this avant-garde system. They go by cute names too – Jim and Jill.

By utilising a gaming computer synced with GPS to pinpoint the driver’s exact location, alongside a windshield-mounted device that tracks head movements, the result is a captivating, seamless virtual journey.

Imagine navigating through fantastical urban landscapes or even the depths of outer space, all from the driver’s seat of your MINI.

Martin Höpfinger, one of the MINI Mixed Reality Developers, added: “Within a second, participants are transported to a virtual world that they can see, hear, and feel.” 

And that’s exactly what I did. After donning the virtual reality goggles, the system transported me to a whimsical virtual playground, and I was free to take it all in. You can do it with absolute ease too, since the technology mimics the digital surroundings on all of the mirrors and even the sunroof on the real car.

The plain dirt circuit became a kaleidoscope of colour and wonder. If there was one word that immediately sprang to mind, it would be ‘trippy’. You can see your real hands and the steering wheel, but beyond that is all just a sea of pixels interacting with your every move. 

There were also virtual items that the car could interact with while driving along the course. Each hit of a beach ball or waffle wall would result in a comical ‘twang, and each lap changed the surroundings into a more abstract concept than the last.

I cheekily went a bit faster too, to see if the system was able to keep up with my hastened inputs. Impressively, it did so without even breaking a sweat, meaning I had no problems avoiding any potential collisions with digital trees.

According to MINI, this technology isn’t just about fun and games. It’s poised to revolutionise driver training and advance automated driving technologies.

Beginner drivers could gain invaluable experience without real-world risks, and experienced drivers could test their mettle on custom virtual tracks.

Getting out of the car after the experience, the real world just felt… duller. That was just how impressive Mini Mixed Reality really is. This article doesn’t do justice to the visuals; you’ll need to experience it to understand the ground-breaking potential a system like this can offer.

The advent of technology can be scary, but at least MINI is using it to make the world a more colourful place, one drive at a time.

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