Virtual Reality: Enhancing the Automotive Design Process

Virtual Reality - VRED/Nvidia

The Automotive Design process is among the most complex as it requires input from so many different groups, including: industrial designers, mechanical engineers, experts in simulation and experts in safety. The arduous process of moving from inspired drawings and digital models to 3D clay models, to concept cars, to testing, to production is long, expensive and tedious. Virtual Reality - VRED/NvidiaWith all the details that have to be communicated, agreed upon and adjusted as necessary, how can this process ever get any easier, any faster or any more enjoyable? While not all of these groups see eye-to-eye on everything, in order for a final product to be successful you must have consensus and everyone must continue to work towards a common goal. This is enough of a challenge, technology aside. But when you add in the complexity of different software tools in use, different file formats, different data sets, different filing systems, etc. the room for error and the time investment only grow larger.

Virtual Reality has a purpose far beyond gaming; it is a professional tool that can be used to bring different groups together from across the world to communicate and identify where adjustments need to be made with a far more realistic model than a 3D image on a 2D screen.

If you attended Autodesk’s Automotive Launch Tour event in either Los Angeles or Detroit this year, you may have had the opportunity to demo the Virtual Reality solution in VRED. If not, you have another chance at Autodesk University in the Manufacturing Exhibit area Tuesday through Thursday during exhibition hours. Take the time to come and see it, bring any of your partners or colleagues that could also benefit.

Collaboration is the key to a successful design and the more effective the collaborative effort, the smoother the design process and the sooner the final product can be taken to market. While Autodesk’s rendering software, VRED, provides the image and the environment in the virtual reality, the engine used to process the data is also important in the overall quality of the virtual reality experience.

Autodesk understands this principle and has partnered with Nvidia to create a state-of-the-art solution to practically implement Virtual Reality in the Automotive Design Review process. The very nature of this partnership is collaborative to the core, as there is a host of variables that can affect the user’s experience. Nvidia and Autodesk engineers have worked closely together to integrate Nvidia VRworks SDK into VRED. This leverages the capabilities of the Nvidia Pascal GPU architecture to provide the best possible VR performance and image quality. Combined with the top-of-the-line Nvidia Quadro P6000 GPU, the result is unparalleled Virtual Reality - VRED/Nvidiaperformance for professional VR experiences.

Without going too far into the weeds on the functionality, the key to VR is the user experience. As the user is moving around to explore the model that is being projected, the scene changes need to keep up with their eyes. With Nvidia Quadro VR-ready GPUs, users can count on 90 frames per second, per eye, a critical feature that enhances the rendering detail, while minimizing the physical effects. Details on the Quadro Professional Workstation Graphics can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/quadro-desktop-gpus.html

Accurately visualizing CAD data is critical. In order to see the most lifelike version of the design, you need to start with the original data, not a stripped-down, “optimized” version, and this needs to be rendered accurately. Considering there are thousands of parts in any one automobile, as new parts are added or adjusted, designers need to see how they will fit, how they will look, and what, if anything, needs to change. Any un-optimized car model comprises 20-30 million polygons or more. That is a lot of data to render, so, in the past, users have found themselves sacrificing model complexity or image quality to achieve the necessary VR performance. By using the Nvidia Quadro P6000, users no longer have to painstakingly strip details out of models, saving tremendous amounts of time.  The Quadro flagship GPU has a 24 GB frame buffer that can ingest entire CAD files and render them in VR without the unwanted compromises in accuracy, model detail and image quality that are required on less power powerful graphics cards.

“The impressive performance boost of the Nvidia P6000 enables us to visualize even more complex 3D data fully immersive in Autodesk VRED using the HTC Vive – without the need of time consuming data reduction and with outstanding render quality.”
– Sebastian Reher, Visualization specialist – Style Department  Porsche

How the environment interacts with the model is critical to evaluating a design: How light reveals curves, how the vehicle fits into a parking space, how low it is to the ground… an understanding of these details often comes late in design, requiring expensive changes.Virtual Reality - VRED/Nvidia

Virtual Reality is a new and effective way to feel the 3D presence of the design, to relate to it at real scale, and to identify opportunities for iterative improvement earlier on in the design process, saving time and cost. Being able to see and experience the model in a true, collaborative space empowers everyone involved to contribute where and when it matters. VR will change the automotive design industry.

So, what do you need to get started? A workstation with a Quadro P6000 running an instance of VRED Professional for each collaborative user, an HTC Vive  and a CAD model. It’s that easy!

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