The automotive industry is and has been one of the most economically important sectors in our society. Despite ups and downs, this segment has managed to always impress the audience through new ground-breaking technologies in order to deliver the best vehicles. At the same time, automakers are constantly working to deliver a better customer experience, the ultimate modern differentiator when it comes to customers picking their car.
Consequently, designers and engineers are under tremendous pressure to create high-quality products which offer the high-class services, amenities and safety features that are considered the standard today. Given that there is always a constant race towards improvement, better models, better design, better features, how can car manufacturers optimise their workflow in order to deliver the best results possible? The answer is simple: real-time 3D and VR.
Today we are going to talk about what these technologies are adding to the car industry.
It is rather difficult for the designer to communicate, and engineers to visualise the full scope of a design in a 2D environment. Conventional 3D tools also lack interactivity and don’t offer a sense of how many car features will perform before reaching the prototype phase. Not only that, but vehicle design requires continuous improvement and testing. Therefore, the downside of the old design system is that after the prototype hardware has been made, no changes can be made to the fundamental design decisions.
The solution VR brings is elegant and creates a better workflow for all teams working together. By combining real-time 3D and virtual reality, designers are able to create a fully immersive experience throughout the development process and allow the teams to interact with a fully responsive design. This way, the engineering team will be able to have a full-on try of the car’s features with only a virtual reality headset. From opening the doors, adjusting the mirrors, or checking the interior lighting, the UX experience VR offers is a truly an enhanced experience compared to the old design systems.
Virtual Reality Showrooms
When customers usually start looking for a car they visit the dealership. However, in a lot of the cases, the cars displayed might not have the right colour, features or might not be the right model. Now imagine a VR showroom: clients would be able to customize any make or model, would be able to walk around it and try the driver’s seat. This could increase the interactivity between the audience and their dream products and it also won’t cost that much compared to what benefits it brings.
Some big players in the industry have already rolled out this VR technology for their cars with the Audi VR experience and they might also start offering pre-recorded test-drives so people would be able to experience what it will be like to have one.
Other brands such as Vroom, a used-car dealership is rolling out this technology to showcase their assortment remotely. This helps reduce the costs of bringing the cars to the customers directly for the demonstration purposes.
Another great advantage of using VR is for training purposes. The old way of teaching engineers to assemble various parts of a car is through observation-based systems. After a theoretical process, engineers are being supervised by experts and learn how to assemble the components. Nevertheless, this always results in some mistakes made and some damage to the particular model.
Virtual reality offers an easier alternative when it comes to training. Engineers can make as many mistakes as they want which results in a much more efficient training program and significantly cuts the errors rate. VR has become a tool through which assembly specialists are put through stressful and dangerous situations and teaching them how to handle any kind of situations in case of emergencies.
Self driving cars and safety
Probably the biggest technological milestone in the automotive industry has been the self-driving car. Tech giants are investing a lot of effort into this sector and progress is steadily being made. Of course, the biggest concern around self-driving cars is the safety of such vehicles of both the passengers and other traffic participants.
Thinking about autonomous cars and how they work, oneself must understand that they use complex algorithms to determine what action they should take in certain situations. This leads to the necessity of having to ‘’train’’ the car software and put it under thousands or hundreds of thousands of situations in order to have a big test coverage concerning most situations that might occur. The software might need endless hours of training to be capable to be released for customer use. This is where VR comes in handy. If the data fed to the program would be VR streams instead of realistic simulations, then the training could be parallelized and in only one night thousands of simulations could train the self-driving car software.
Another reason why VR could be a big help when it comes to autonomous cars is the cornerstone test cases. There are certain situations which could be potentially dangerous if humans would be exposed to them. Therefore, a viable and safer solution is to use VR to avoid any risk of injury. More than that, by creating a virtual environment to test and train the car, this allows the engineers to recreate any weather condition, any types of road and under any circumstances. The immersive technology can help vendors to ensure a high safety level for their autonomous vehicles with lower costs and reduced time.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can help car manufacturers cut time to market and costs needed for designing and assembling vehicles. Used for testing and training, the immersive technology allows car brands to speed up and improve the training process and, as a result, increase the productivity.
In addition, car dealerships can increase their profits by allowing customers to customize their dream car and safely test-drive it as well.
Simply put, the automotive industry can benefit from using VR and AR not only for their customer base but also for their own internal processes, such as testing, learning, and reshaping the driving experience.