By now, you might have already tried on (or are familiar with) virtual reality headsets. Instead of a screen right in front of you, a VR headset puts you right into the action of things by way of two screens (one for each eye) mounted on the device itself.
This allows users to experience what it feels like to be in a video game, or within a simulated environment without the disconnect of a typical monitor display. While viewed mainly as a form of entertainment, automakers are using the device as a tool for designing their future cars.
Kia Motors Corporation, as well as Hyundai Motor Company, recently revealed a new way of evaluating the design of their vehicles. The new system, which was introduced to the Namyang Research and Development Center in South Korea, features VR technology that will be used in both development and designing applications.
Through this new type of technology, Kia and Hyundai expects that VR technology will help in speeding up R&D and pre-production development, as well as a 20% reduction in vehicle development times. In addition, the two companies also anticipate a 15% reduction in annual costs thanks to this new type of tech.
The system works via specially-designed headsets which are capable of catering to 20 simultaneous users. That way, vehicle designers and engineers can virtually enter developmental simulations. And with 36 motion tracking sensors in play, users can also manipulate the environment and designs in real-time. As a result, designers from each brand can move more efficiently and review a wide array of design concepts while in VR. This will allow designers to easily make changes in digital instead of expensive mock-ups.
Besides designing and manipulating devices in VR, Kia and Hyundai also said that vehicle development teams can also assess individual components such as doors, trunk lids, engine hoods, and windshield wipers. Aerodynamic testing, along with the ability to test vehicle ergonomics can also be done while in VR.
“The virtual development process is a necessary step for responding quickly and reacting with agility to the needs of customers and paradigm shifts within the automotive industry. Through reinforced virtual processes, we will enhance quality and profitability, ultimately increasing investment in R&D to secure competitiveness in future mobility,” said Albert Biermann, Head of Research and Development Division for Hyundai Motor Group.
In the future, Kia and Hyundai also plan to introduce VR technology in product planning and manufacturing. This will allow the companies to create a working test vehicle in the digital world besides making one in reality. With it, quality verification processes can be done easily while in VR which they can use to correlate to a real test vehicle.
With VR set to play a big role in Kia and Hyundai, it looks like future cars from the two companies will receive an upgrade not just in looks, but in overall quality too.