A specially developed virtual reality design evaluation system has been introduced by Hyundai and Kia at its global design headquarters at the Namyang Research and Development Center in South Korea. It was created as part of a ₩15bn (US$12.8m) investment in the facility.
The technology uses several development applications, enabling teams of designers and engineers to carry out vehicle design quality assessments and development verification processes.
Through the complete implementation of virtual development processes throughout R&D and pre-production, Hyundai and Kia anticipate a 20% reduction in vehicle development times and a 15% reduction in annual development costs.
“Virtual development is a necessary step for responding quickly and reacting with agility to the needs of customers and paradigm shifts within the automotive industry,” said Albert Biermann, head of the research and development division for Hyundai Motor Group.
“Through reinforced virtual processes, we will enhance quality and profitability, ultimately increasing investment in R&D to secure competitiveness in future mobility.”
In addition to reducing development costs, these new virtual technologies are expected to increase profitability and trigger a cycle of continuous R&D investment at Hyundai and Kia.
VR headsets allow the brands’ vehicle designers and engineers to virtually enter developmental simulations, with 36 motion tracking sensors detecting and tracking the locations and movement of all users, enabling each to participate accurately in real-time. The new VR design evaluation system can currently support up to 20 simultaneous users, enabling greater cross-team collaboration than ever before.
As a result, the facility enables designers to more efficiently review a multitude of design concepts earlier in the developmental process and in ways that were previously physically impossible. The system simulates interior and exterior design elements, lighting, colors and materials, and even virtual environments themselves.
Hyundai first used this system in the design assessment of the HDC-6 Neptune Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck. Kia also plans to expand the design assessment capabilities of the facility for developmental use on future models.
Additionally, the establishment of remote VR design assessment capabilities will enable real-time virtual collaboration between each brand’s design centers in Europe, the USA, China, and India, along with an enhanced virtual development process through the implementation of AR (augmented reality), among other techniques.
Hyundai and Kia established a new design quality verification system using VR in March 2019, utilizing three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) data collected from every stage of the vehicle development process to assess the quality of each design in virtual environments.
The VR design quality verification system is capable of 100% accuracy equivalents; previous digital assessments were limited to two-dimensional analysis and did not permit detailed performance evaluations.
VR design quality verification processes also show tremendous potential for developing safety technologies as vehicles can be tested virtually in a variety of simulated environments and situations.
VR also enables Hyundai and Kia vehicle development teams to simulate operations of individual vehicle components, such as doors, trunk lids, engine hoods, and windshield wipers. Furthermore, the system enables teams to test vehicle ergonomics and aerodynamics more efficiently.
Hyundai and Kia also plan to introduce virtual reality in production and assembly to create more ergonomic, efficient and safe working environments.
Initially, virtual models will be formulated using data from an architecture-based R&D system, analyzing market demand. The model is then virtually verified, allowing the creation of a harmonized and accurate performance goals based on customer demands.
Where previous quality verification processes began with the manufacturing of a test vehicle, this process can now be accomplished virtually, during the pre-production stage. Quality verification using virtual models and techniques in early design stages will ultimately enhance the quality control of real-world vehicles.
Further applications for virtual digital twin verification will see VR heavily employed in the development of future mobility solutions, such as high-level autonomous driving.