Volkswagen is taking to the virtual route to cut costs when it comes to making models for tomorrow. The company is using augmented reality at its research facilities spread across the globe to facilitate collaborative development and cut prototype development costs. Designs can be modified using just voice commands and gestures and it all takes just a few seconds. The company has developed the software needed to make all this possible at the Volkswagen Virtual Engineering Lab in Wolfsburg and all engineers need to do to use this platform is wear ‘HoloLens’ mixed-reality goggles. HoloLens is a mobile computer that was developed by Microsoft and it can be used to project virtual content onto a physical object through gesture control and voice commands. Thus engineers can easily visualize the effect that different wheels, fender designs or paint colors might have on a model.
Volkswagen has six such labs which are operated by Volkswagen Group IT in Wolfsburg, Berlin, Munich and San Francisco. Another lab will soon become operational in Barcelona. Volkswagen is working closely with technology companies and research institutions to come up with new applications of digital technology in vehicle design, connectivity and big data.
Frank Ostermann, head of the Virtual Engineering Lab in Wolfsburg said that the company has been augmented reality and virtual reality for some time, especially in applications where a three-dimensional view is needed. He said that the company is now working on using this tool for Technical Development. Engineers will soon be able to work on a virtual vehicle, designing and altering components as needed virtually and they will be able to see the results of their changes immediately. He said that the company is really close to first new vehicle concepts and design studies.
Using augmented reality can significantly slash time and development costs when it comes to new models.
The HoloLens not only facilitates design and modifications but also allows groups in different countries to work on the same project. All the teams will be able to view the current design model at the same time and will be able to save time by working on a virtual model as against a clay model.
Ostermann explained, “The teams can directly follow and compare minimal changes to the model and then make a decision. This means that they can reach their goal faster.
Currently, the HoloLens software is still in the trial phase. A few years down the road, it is expected that the software can be used to call up the entire Volkswagen brand model portfolio and to present different body versions of a model in all conceivable variants ranging from a coupe to an SUV or an estate car.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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