How does General Motors design its vehicles?
At one time, virtual reality was the stuff of science fiction; simply an intricate experimental idea with untold potential. Those quaint days are long gone. Not only is virtual reality here, but it’s easily obtainable for home use. General Motors has taken this technology and turned it into a way to change the way its vehicles are conceptualized and designed. What was once done with wood and clay models, is now done with ones and zeroes in photo-realistic environments. If you’ve ever wondered how a Chevy, Buick, Cadillac or GMC vehicle goes from a sketch on a dinner napkin to an actual production model in the Don Wheaton showroom, here is a brief primer.
CAVE virtual environments
A March 2017 article written by Chitra Sethi, Managing Editor of ASME.org spoke with some designers and engineers from General Motors to learn how they use virtual reality technology to build the company’s incredible cars, trucks and SUVs. According to the Sethi’s story, the basis for GM’s virtual reality tools actually date back to the CAVE system developed in the 1970s at the University of Indiana. GM started using it in 2000. Obviously, several upgrades and changes have happened over the years.
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It is simply incredible how much detail can be observed in these virtual environments. Once all of the measurements and other data are inputted into the system, donning a pair of 3D glasses allow engineers to sit inside the vehicle. They can see the entire vehicle, right down to the gaps between individual components. Improvements and corrections can be made quickly without having to build a brand new model.
The other area where virtual reality is hugely useful is with obtaining preliminary safety data. The team can run crash simulations and see how the car and its passengers fair. This is not meant to replace real world crash test data, but changes made on a virtual vehicle can have huge implications when it’s finally built and put on the road.
If you would like to see what Don Wheaton has available for GM vehicles, contact one of our sales professionals today.