Driving blind! Stefan’s not camera-shy on track

  • German couple rise to the challenge of driving blind
  • Seat Ateca has four cameras for digital 360-degree view
  • No panic – closed circuit with driving experts

Driving blind in Spain - cameras-only test for Seat in Barcelona, Spain. Image: Seat

DRIVING BLIND IN SPAIN: Cameras-only test for German couple in a Seat in Barcelona, Spain. Image: Seat

MARTORELL, Spain – We’re near the beach in Barcelona and looking for volunteers to drive a course in a vehicle with all its windows blanked out. Can it be done?

Stefan, a German tourist and a big fan of Barcelona didn’t think so. “Completely covered? No, I don’t think it can.” “Want to give it a try?” we asked.

“Of course I would!” he grinned. After all, not his car.

FOUR CAMERAS, ONE DRIVER, NO VISION

We lead him and his wife to the closed urban circuit where a Seat Ateca car waits with an instructor who will be on board. Stefan can only navigate by watching a screen displaying a 360-degree view around the car projected from four cameras in the vehicle.

A top-view image is shown to the driver – a very handy feature when manoeuvring into a parking slot.

An instructor belts-in on the front passenger seat: “All you have to do is drive within the lines,”, he explains, and the challenge begins.

“This is great!” exclaims Stefan. “I can’t see a thing outside but it works!”

“It’s just like a video game,” says the instructor.

“How’s it going?” asks his wife the back-seat driver. “Easy!” says Stefan with a smile.

‘WHAT A FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE’

The rest of the challenge goes off without a hitch, full of laughter and excitement. Driving forward, then in reverse; turning right and left. The screen offers precise navigation, at times leaving our volunteers speechless.

“What a fantastic experience!” Stefan admitted after completing the circuit. “What a great feature.”

Seat is the only automaker that designs, develops, assembles and sells cars in Spain. Though a member of the German VW Group, the multinational has its HQ in Martorell (Barcelona).

More than 80% of its vehicles are exported to more than 75 countries. Seat’s turnover in 2015 was more than 8.3-billion euros – the most in its history – from worldwide sales of more than 400 000 vehicles.

That’s the best it’s done since 2007.

BIG COMPANY, BIG ON HIGH-TECH

Seat employs more than 14 000 people in three production centres in Spain – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell, where it assembles the Ibiza and Leon. Vehicles are also assembled in the Czech Republic, Portugal and Slovakia.

Seat has the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and is currently engaged in the company’s global digitisation to promote the mobility of the future.

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