January 23, 2015
This is a sponsored article by our partners at Ford.
Typically we associate virtual and augmented reality technology with fun and games, thanks to Oculus Rift or Google Glass. But Ford Motor Company takes immersive virtual reality very seriously. Ford is the first automaker to use a new ultra high-definition, virtual reality lab that enables designers and engineers globally to work together on vehicles in real time. And all that collaboration has enabled the development of better cars.
Ford has been using virtual reality technology to various degrees to develop its designs since the year 2000. Ford’s engineers all over the world are creating vehicles in a new way – together, in an ultrahigh-definition, virtual reality space.
“Every vehicle we have a concept for it, and we will asses all the concepts virtually. The most significant thing that immersive VR brings is that it brings the whole team together,” Elizabeth Baron, Ford virtual reality and advanced visualization technical specialist, told Tech.Co
Simultaneous input from designers and engineers globally of both the interior and exterior of a car design is helping to improve Ford vehicle quality ahead of the prototype stage in vehicle development. Think of their meeting as lasting anything between half an hour or several hours in total, designers and engineers attend to specific segments of one car using immersive visual space. With the new 4K-resolution “powerwall,” Ford engineers can have a life-sized view of issues that arise in vehicle development. Watch Ford’s virtual reality technology in action here.
“It’s a great tool to communicate ideas,” explains Baron. “The perspective change is so meaningful in developing a better product.”
This more dynamic, precision-oriented work environment is delivering improvements, as seen, for example, in specific features of the new Ford Fusion and all-new Ford Mustang.
And that’s exactly what drivers want, to drive a car that makes sense. Or as Baron says, “it needs to be logical.” Ford has all the tools to create cars that make sense for the consumer, including data from costumers on their preferences when it comes to a vehicle.
“We take the statistics, and do analysis on how you react to that vehicle. It’s about putting your personal experience in and getting data that can help us make our vehicles,” says Baron.
The promises of virtual reality extend far beyond creating better cars, and Ford is among the first to experience how the technology can not only improve the driver’s experience, but also reduce cost in production. By using this virtual reality approach in advance of actual implementation, Ford has lower cost of tooling changes, higher quality and a faster time to market.
“We used to build so many prototypes of our vehicles. Now we build one sub-prototype and one real prototype,” confirms Baron.
Wouldn’t it be great to use virtual reality to build your personalized car on the spot? Baron explains that as of now, we should leave it to the experts, but who knows what Ford has in store for its customers .
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