Ford has its workers, other than those who perform business-critical functions and have to be on location at Ford facilities around the globe, working from home. That means the vehicle designers who are working on completing future vehicles are all working from home, and are using virtual reality to keep vehicle development on track. The Ford designers say that while they were using virtual reality before, the tool has become much more critical for ensuring the development process keeps going.
Vice President of design Moray Callum; global design director Todd Willing, global design director, cars and crossover lead Joel Piaskowski; and Director of design engineering and technical operations Ian McLaughlin are all using HTC Vive VR headsets to log into a virtual studio where they can inspect the design process of a vehicle. The designers say that before lockdowns and that sort of design meeting was typically held with all design personnel in one place, but now is done from home.
Viewing the vehicle in virtual reality enables the Ford designers to see the vehicle in a variety of situations and a variety of different lighting scenarios. They’re able to inspect design elements and panel gaps. The idea is to sort the design as well as possible before milling a clay model. The making of clay models in full-size was an important part of the design process before coronavirus forced people to work from home.
The entire process is being done in virtual reality under the current work situation. When multiple team members are logged into the virtual studio at the same time, they are each represented by their own avatar that looks like a robot. Currently, the team talks about changes and then makes the changes independently for viewing by the team in a later meeting. Ford hopes that in the future, changes can be made in real-time to the models, but computing and bandwidth limitations make that virtually impossible right now. Ford is also having its Mach-E engineers work on vehicles from home, with some having test vehicles in the driveway to keep the refinement process going ahead of launch.
Source: Car & Driver