The special effects company The Mill, along with Unreal Engines created a special electric car rig that can transform itself into any vehicle you can imagine, using augmented reality (or AR). This special electric car rig is known as the Blackbird, which comes from the Blackbird SR-71 supersonic jet as a nod to the legacy of its stealth design.
The Blackbird took two years in development and was hand built by the technicians from JemFX. The electric car rig can quickly transform its chassis to match the exact length and width of almost any car. It is powered by an electric motor, which can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shifts and the adjustable suspension alters ride height, rigidity and dampening to replicate typical driving characteristics.
The Mill uses motion capture techniques to place a super realistic body over the Blackbird’s frame. And because the Blackbird is a real vehicle, it helps the final result to look much more realistic. It can also change its width by up to 10 inches and its length by four feet to match anything from a Fiat 500 to a limousine.
“It's difficult to know what a car will really look and drive like when you are designing until the later stages, but we can allow car companies to see the 'car' driving with a skin over the top of the Blackbird so they can visualize things earlier and more effectively,” says Alistair Thompson, International Executive Vice President, from The Mill.