Large HUD Looks Likely In Tesla Model 3

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Update: For more background on what a HUD is, see this video (thanks to “newnodm” for sharing):

Editor’s Note: I absolutely loved the HUD in the BMW i8. If the Model 3 has a HUD even better than that, or even just as good as that, I’m sure customers will be happy.

One of the things that stood out the most about the Tesla Model 3 when it was first unveiled was the rather simple and uncluttered interior.

While some posited that the interior design was simply unfinished, others were quick to consider other possibilities — including the possible inclusion of a large HUD (heads-up display). That possibility would of course also explain why conventional air vents weren’t featured in the interior — the freed-up space allowing for a larger HUD.

Tesla Model 3 HUD
Image by Randy Carlson, based off of a Tesla image.

A very interesting and in-depth article recently published by Randy Carlson on Seeking Alpha explored this line of thought, as well as others. Here are some choice excerpts from that article:

The largest barrier to putting a great HUD in cars is finding the volume within the dash for the necessary large optical components. Tesla appears to be taking the innovative approach of replacing the conventional instruments with the HUD, thus freeing up the necessary volume to make a great HUD display. At the same time, what is saved by eliminating conventional instruments will largely, if not entirely offset the cost of the HUD.

The same DLP technology used for the HUD can also be used to project images on to a ‘frosted’ screen from the back. In fact, the same optics used to display images can be used to detect operator gestures, allowing an interactive touch screen to be implemented on an inert piece of frosted glass without any wiring. In other words, the touch screen shown in the Model 3 at the unveiling could be implemented using the same imaging technology as the HUD with nothing more than a piece of frosted glass or plastic positioned in front of the dashboard.

…There are compelling advantages that make DLP displays preferable to LCD or OLED alternatives. The active elements of a DLP display are very small compared to an LCD display or conventional “instrument cluster”. The DMD image generator – the array of a couple million movable mirrors – is built on an IC chip, about the size of your thumbnail. DLP image projectors are also more power efficient than LCD displays, allowing brighter images and lower operating temperatures, both of which are important for automotive displays that must be visible in bright sunlight conditions.

Tesla is not bringing some new technology to automobiles by using a DLP head up display. The innovation is in removing the conventional instruments, controls and HVAC ducts from the dash, making room to implement a very compelling HUD that can then display all the information formerly presented by conventional instruments and displays. The display generating components are very small, only the optics (light, inexpensive, molded plastic mirrors) are large. This is an example of innovation that delivers simplicity, ease of manufacture and very possibly lower cost overall. This kind of innovative display solution for Model 3 is definitely the right kind of innovation. It’s not another Falcon Door.

Very interesting points. The issue of strong sunlight making LCD and OLED displays hard to see is a commonly discussed one. The potential solution discussed above would certainly be appreciated by many, especially considering the glass roof design of the Model 3 (the all-glass roof appears to simply be an option, not standard, it should be noted).

As we reported previously, Tesla recently hired Milan Kovac — the principal engineer behind the SKULLY HUD-featuring motorcycle helmet — seemingly adding weight to this speculation.

“And looking at recent hires at Tesla Motors, it’s clear that Tesla is emphasizing experience with HUD, gesture control, and other unique automotive interior tech implementations,” Evannex noted.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s own comments appear to corroborate at least some of this speculation. Here is a tweet he made on the matter:

At any rate, I’m sure that we can expect the production interior of the Model 3 to be fairly different from what we have seen so far.

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James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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29 thoughts on “Large HUD Looks Likely In Tesla Model 3

    • I agree on both counts. I’m not so sure why SeekingAlpha is pushing DLP as a superior technology to LCD or OLED. DLP was a transition technology in home theater, with a number of problems including brightness/focus. I can’t imagine Tesla choosing it and then needing to implement an accompanying optical sensor suite for the 15″ display, when LCD touchscreens can be bought anywhere.

      To the HUD, there’s no reason why Tesla couldn’t implement a crazy turn-by-turn HUD as shown in the video. In fact, the best part of Tesla’s approach is that this could be implemented *after* the car’s been released, providing the HUD hardware is present in the vehicle. After all, it’s just software that’s handling the projection and placement of graphics. It’s such an obvious and yet huge advantage they have.

      • The model 3 needs HUD for autopilot implementation. The LCD probably doesn’t work as a HUD display.

        As Tesla does more self-driving, HUD is potentially far superior than the current dash display. The driver looking forward will simply see what the HUD is up to. I think the brain will be easily trained to react to a hazardous autopilot condition.

        • Like the freeway crash recently, she would have been sure if autopilot had or had not seen the car in front of her. And we will be able to see what AP is doing without looking away from the road if something like this comes to Tesla

          • Exactly. This situation get worse with better autopilot.

          • Yeah, because once it can do 90+% of the driving we won’t be watching it as closely but if we see something not marked we can be at the ready or take over.

            Also they can show potholes and if we don’t see one marked we can nudge it around them. Current display has no provisions for potholes or any other negative or positive height obstructions that aren’t cars or walls.

          • Exactly. And if she had deactivated autopilot by tapping the brake, she would have more quickly noticed due to the lights changing.

      • My favourite innovations are those that work better for EV’s than ICEV’s (or better for Tesla, much the same statement), as they give the worldwide energy transition a nudge in the right direction.
        This qualifies because the traditional manufacturers are at sixes and sevens trying to get all their devices working as slaves to one central ‘brain’ – i.e. conducive to OTA updates. They buy complete devices from suppliers who sell the same unit to many buyers, not slave devices.
        I agree – this HUD gives Tesla yet another edge. All they have to do is install it before the car leaves the factory. Making it work perfectly can come later.

        • THis HUD isn’t made by Tesla or even something the company has said it will purchase. It is made in Germany by a company called Continental.

          • Sorry, I probably didn’t explain my point well. It’s not the HUD (any HUD) that’s special. It’s that a Tesla makes it special by connecting it to the same CPU as every other slave device. So the HUD can display ( in addition to turn by turn and auto pilot feedback) the temperature, radio station, address book, incoming caller, SMS messages, door and seat belt warnings, battery level, the time in Paris, the weather in New York, the price of eggs, Elon’s latest tweet etc.
            Obviously it needs to be minimum clutter for driver alertness, but this stuff could be available on demand, and of course be OTA improved over time.

          • Scroll through the options with a steering wheel button.

            There may be a couple of things that an individual driver would always want displayed. Then they could select what they want to see at that particular moment in time (time, temp, radio station, next turn destination indication, distance/time to next recharger, ….)

      • I think the OTA updates are a critical competitive advantage but not so obvious to many people.

        Supercharging? duh.
        Autopilot? duh for most people.
        Performance? duh for most people.
        OTA updates? huh?

        • Tesla should be able to come up with clever small HUD enhancements that are deliverable by OTA. Perhaps customized by customer.

          For Zach, perhaps a translucent image of Musk’s face always floating in his field of vision.

          • lol. i’m honestly getting a bit tired of looking at pictures of Elon. 😀 i love the guy, but we’ve done so many stories on him…. 😀

        • At some point I anticipate an update allowing people to opt in to demand managed charging programs. Not so important now, but key as we push towards 100% RE. Comforting to know that when it’s time, it can be rolled out in a big way, literally overnight.

      • DLP isn’t a transitional technology. It’s used in all digital movie theaters around the world. It has NO problems with brightness or focus. I have no idea where you’re getting this information, but it’s completely wrong.

        • It was a transitional technology for home theaters (living rooms). Why else was it completely replaced by LCDs? That was my point. Would you say it’s advantageous to use in a brightly lit car as the main display?

          • DLPs have struggled with black levels and contrast ratios. The display is a reflective surface and not an active source of light. Hence the blackest level is compromised by any ambient light. DLP works great in a dark living room or a blacked out theater. I’m not convinced how well it would work as a general purpose display in a bright automotive environment.

          • I can’t quite get my head around what black level means on the windscreen, but the TI DLP seems to be the highest contrast image I’ve seen. Since the end user chooses the light source, Tesla could use a very bright LED and do thermal management with the new vent system in the model 3.

            The TI is speced at 12 degrees by 4 degrees. I assume the end user designs the aperture size and therefore the final image size. The limiting factor for may be the fairly low resolution of the imager from TI.

      • A big problem with DLP has been the projector lamps. Heat, maintenance, large size in an analog component. With all of the recent progress in LED lamps, converting that element to a digital component should make DLP technology much easier to implement. Though I don’t anticipate anyone replacing LCD/OLED screens with it in the near term.

    • That’s pretty badass. I just assumed it would be speed and state of charge, but lane and object awareness and turn by turn? OMG I can only imagine what those Tesla wizards are brewing up.

    • BMW, MB, and others have had this “augmented reality HUD” for some time.

      • I have used a newer iDrive HUD, but it didn’t have choices to set up with what is in the continental video. I think it would show a car highlighted by the emergency braking systems, but that was all as far as augmented reality.

      • the BMW i8’s HUD seemed pretty simple. Didn’t see any of the cool features highlighted in this video. It just showed speed limit and maybe a couple of other metrics.

  • Can’t wait for “Reveal: Part 2” 🙂
    “It feels like a spaceship” indeed, if the real thing is similar to this…

    • We apparently are not going to get flying cars. But at least we get the cockpit of a flying car.

  • “Editor’s Note: I absolutely loved the HUD in the BMW i8. If the Model 3 has a HUD even better than that, or even just as good as that, I’m sure customers will be happy.”

    The i8 uses technology that BMW has been perfecting for years. I doubt Tesla can do better.

    • Look at the i8 video. Not augmented reality. Just regular HUD. It is much better than Tesla, as Tesla has nothing in its cars.

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