Car manufacturer BMW are using technology developed by the videogame industry to assist in the process of designing and building cars by combining virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing for rapid prototyping and testing.
The German car maker have begun using Unreal Engine’s real-time physics-based rendering engine to explore design options such as interior design and vehicle functionality. Use of VR means that engineers can get an all-round view of the surrounding area and locate potential problems such a blind spots or switches and displays that may be awkward to reach depending on angle or seat position. The engineers and designers are able to get a sense of what sitting in a real car of that design would be like, without the cost of producing a prototype.
Simon Jones, Director of Unreal Engine Enterprise, explained the growing excitement surrounding the use of real-time VR in automotive design and engineering: “The arrival of relatively low cost, high fidelity VR has coincided with a rapid escalation in the need to do more with less and to do it faster,” he said: “BMW’s new mixed reality system is a great example of what can be achieved with clever thinking.”
The new mixed reality system also means that world-wide collaboration is much easier. Designers from all over the world are able to contribute to a project with reviews, evaluations or revisions, without needing to be in the same country at their colleagues.
“Virtual reality and Unreal Engine are becoming a crucial part of automotive design validation,” Jones added. “Car makers are defining the parameters and the Unreal Engine tools deliver the platforms they need, allowing engineers and stylists much greater freedom to explore different themes in a way that wasn’t previously possible with costly physical prototypes because they take so long to build and update.”
Many other manufacturing companies are using VR and augmented reality (AR) in their processes. VRFocus will keep you up to date on developments within this area.