Oh my, someone told the creators of Microsoft Flight Sim 2024 about LIDAR


Developers Microsoft Flight Simulator have many reasons to be proud. Last month, in FlightSimExpo 2024 in Las Vegas, representatives boasted 15 million users and a billion logged flight sessions—numbers that Asobo Studio claims put it at the top of the list of most-played flight simulators ever released. Now, the studio is getting back to that grind, producing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024due out this fall. Asobo calls it “the most ambitious simulator ever attempted,” and given its history, I’m inclined to believe them.

This long conversationhosted by Microsoft Flight Simulator boss Jörg Neumann and Asobo Studio co-founder and CEO Sebastian Wloch, the game clocks in at more than an hour and a half. But those 90 minutes include plenty of treats for dedicated virtual pilots — improvements like app-based offline flight planning, increased ground traffic density at major airports, and the ability to actually step out of the cockpit to perform first-person pre-flight checks.

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However, the compelling thing that should turn the heads of PC and console gamers the most is the reference to a modern partner, a company that Microsoft recently acquired, called Vexcel Imaging.

Vexcel is a pioneering imaging company, known for its UltraCam line of aerial cameras. These multispectral arrays include more time-honored RGB color sensors alongside near-infrared sensors. When combined with their software, the result is a dramatic raise in the resolution of image data available to the design team at Asobo—as evidenced by MSFS 2024The latest game trailer, shown at the Xbox Games Showcase.

Neumann used some of his time on stage at FlightSimExpo to give fans a peek behind the curtain, so to speak, and see what was really on display in the trailer — especially in the opening moments when the single-engine plane flies over Arizona’s Monument Valley.

“The natural environments are something people have never seen before,” Neumann said. “Not on this scale, certainly not at this level of detail.” He then handed the controls over to Włoch to delve a little deeper. You can watch the entire segment here 14 minutes.

It is vital to understand that before, Microsoft Flight Simulator applied 3D assets—like houses and trees—automatically to 2D data. But there’s only so far you can go with this kind of automation, which is why when I first flew over the Great Pyramid of Giza, the pyramid sophisticated was surrounded by a forest of strangely brown deciduous trees instead of sand dunes. Using the UltraCam data to perform photogrammetry—the 3D reconstruction of real-world features from image data alone—gives Asobo’s terrain-rendering software a lot more to work with.

But Vexcel’s camera technology isn’t standing still. This summer, Austrian company adds LIDAR to its arrays also. This will probably add height and relative distance to the data shared with Asobo in addition to graphical data. And that, my friends, could enable procedurally generated environments the likes of which have never been seen in a commercial flight simulator.

Expect more on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 before him Release date November 19thwhen it will be available for purchase and will be part of the Xbox Game Pass service.

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