Automotive car design cycles typically can last up to five years, sometimes even longer. Sales figures in trending segments like crossovers or SUV’s keep going up, which mandates car companies to offer more choice to their customers than ever before. On top of that, new competitors with a start-up mentality are entering the market and gaining traction rapidly. With electrification and autonomous driving capabilities being on the verge of mass implementation, disruption is everywhere in the automotive industry — whether it will be coming from new competitors or from within established companies.
Automakers are therefore facing the increased challenge to shorten their design cycles by far in order to fulfill market demands and compete with new rising stars on the horizon – not only Elon Musk’s TESLA, but also Chinese owned BAIC with their brand BORGWARD, FMC with BYTON, and GEELY with VOLVO to name a few examples. While manufacturers like AUDI and HYUNDAI have publicly spoken about new investments into digitizing design centers to speed up the design cycle, others are for sure working on the same topic.
One key element to solve this challenge is the digitization of the car design process, where 3-D visualization is one of the most important elements when it comes to shortening the design cycle. While CAD (computer aided design) and traditional design methodologies like clay modeling are widely used, having the ability to visualize a 1:1 life-size model of the car on a high-end LED wall with photo-realistic, deep color quality simply accelerates the entire design process. There is less need to work with clay models by using such technology. Designers can create real-time representations of a new model and get it assessed and approved rapidly. On top of that, VR/AR (virtual reality / augmented reality) can be added into the design process seamlessly next to the visualization on the LED walls. Being able to collaborate with multiple team members in different locations on multiple LED walls and VR/AR headsets in real-time becomes a must in order to further reduce the car design cycle time.
With technology solutions available today, high-end compute clusters or workstations needed to create the visualization described above can be centrally and securely located. In order to extend and switch the AV (audio / video) and HMI (human machine interface) signals seamlessly and with no noticeable delay while enabling interactivity (extending and switching the keyboard, touchscreen, mouse signals, etc.), a specialized high-performance switching & extension solution is required. Next to AV and HMI signals from the compute cluster to the LED walls, also VR and AR signals can be switched and extended. Multiple users in different locations can share the same compute resources with no need to locate the computers close to the LED walls or to the VR/AR viewing locations. By connecting multiple locations via a WAN (wide area network) or over a leased IP line, design teams can collaborate in real-time now without compromising on the photo-realistic image quality required for digital visualizations.
Decisions on how to move forward with a certain design all of a sudden don’t require extensive traveling from multiple people to the design centers any longer. By connecting multiple locations, executives who sit in different offices far away from the design center can collaborate, interact and approve designs remotely by looking at the same ultra-high image quality on their local LED wall and VR/AR solution.
There are additional innovative ways in leveraging this technology beyond design cycle speed-up; like real-time 4K video conferencing or optimizing production plants.