General Motors will get first dibs on a new venture from Epic Games. Today, the American video game and software developer announced a new HMI initiative based on the Unreal Engine gaming architecture to enable the creation of automotive infotainment and digital cockpit experiences. And GM’s soon-to-be-revealed 2022 Hummer EV by GMC will be the first vehicle to use Unreal Engine in its digital cockpit and infotainment system. This is also the first confirmation of the Hummer EV introducing a new digital cockpit system, which perhaps could be similar to the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.
The most popular use of the Unreal Engine platform is Fortnite. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
The latest version is Unreal Engine 5, which is set to launch in late 2021 – right when the 2022 GMC Hummer EV is expected to come to market, along with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Unreal Engine 5 can display graphics in 4K resolution, and can take full advantage of upcoming high-speed storage solutions with the next-generation console hardware that will use a mix of RAM and custom solid-state drives. This means that the General Motors Global B electrical architecture can support it.
To make headway into the automotive market faster, Unreal Engine and Epic have formed alliances with HMI technology leaders including BlackBerry QNX, Mapbox, Qualcomm Technologies, Siili Auto and Vectorform.
Epic says that many automakers already utilize the power of the Unreal Engine for Build & Price configurators and marketing operations, and it can be reused for in-vehicle HMI systems. This also makes for a more efficient use of company resources, and keeps designs consistent across an entire brand.
Epic says that Unreal Engine is very developer-focused, and includes 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.
“The use of Unreal Engine in the GMC Hummer EV will provide richer graphics than ever before, celebrating the vehicle and its customers,” said Scott Martin, Creative Director of User Interface Design at GM. “We’re ecstatic to be the first vehicle to use Unreal Engine in our cockpit and look forward to sharing more details upon the vehicle’s reveal on October 20.”
To highlight Epic’s commitment to HMI development, integrations with leading HMI technology providers are making it easier than ever to bring Unreal Engine into automotive displays. Unreal Engine currently supports a variety of hardware platforms including the Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive Platform, a product of Qualcomm Technologies. Siili Auto’s bespoke infotainment systems and Vectorform’s digital product and customer experience platforms are supporting Unreal Engine; support for the QNX Neutrino RTOS, a microkernel real-time operating system from BlackBerry QNX and Mapbox navigation are in development.
Originally planned for the end of May at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, where it’s going to be built, the COVID-19 pandemic forced General Motors to come up with a more physically distant solution to reveal the vehicle. What we’re getting is a virtual reveal online, not unlike how we were treated to debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco. Viewers can catch the GMC Hummer EV reveal at 8:00 PM ET during Game 1 of the 2020 MLB World Series on Fox, and on NBC’s The Voice that same evening. Its debut will also be livestreamed on YouTube.
At first, the Hummer EV pickup will be available, but an SUV version will follow. Additionally, the reborn Hummer will have removable roof panels and doors, several unique driving modes, and as much as 1,000 horsepower. Its debut can’t come soon enough.