Seat engineers — led by development centre boss Javier Diaz — claim that the modelling of a new vehicle in extremely fine detail in virtual reality means that the development time can be reduced by as much as 30%.
This super-fine rendering in virtual reality means that not only can component positioning and packaging problems be seen in extraordinary detail, but the virtual 3D models can also be used to plan how the new vehicle might be constructed once it becomes a production line reality.
Diaz ran an animation, demonstrating how the VR creation of the new Ateca SUV was used to work out how the windscreen wiper linkages could be installed smoothly under the scuttle panel.
Rather than waiting until all the vehicle components have been designed and then manufactured using the first production tooling, Seat engineers say superdetailed VR allows many of the potential conflicts and fit issues to be worked out as much as three years before the start of production.
The upshot is that when pilot-build vehicles are eventually constructed, much of the complication of a wholly new design should have been ironed out nearly two years before.
Until you witness it first hand, it is hard to comprehend the way that it is possible to zoom through the virtual vehicle — as if you were slicing the vehicle up. Diaz zoomed in to the fine detail of the inside of the Ateca’s door construction. Small fastenings were rendered as being larger than his hand and the finest details of pressings and wiring looms were displayed in vivid high definition.
Today, it is possible for engineers to interact with the virtual vehicles through the use of VR glasses. Diaz admits that there is some way to go before this technology reaches its full potential.
The key to achieving the peak of the VR revolution will involve new-generation glasses with a wider field of vision, the ability to deal with much higher levels of data, being able to render higher levels of detail and losing the cable connections — because current wi-fi technology isn’t able to handle the amount of information needed.
Diaz says they are expecting wireless VR headsets in the future and that 5G mobile networks should be powerful enough to transmit the huge amount of data wirelessly.
Indeed, by the end of the decade, Diaz admits, it should be possible to hold market research design clinics in VR and the opportunities for intracompany meetings for design and technical development will be unlimited in their scope.