Virtual Reality

Ford demonstrates VR prototyping in Immersive Vehicle Environment

Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: bare test rig allows users to sit inside virtual cars
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: bare test rig allows users to sit inside virtual cars
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: hand held torch lets users light up different areas
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: 4K monitor on rear wall shows what the VR user is seeing
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Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: 4K monitor on rear wall shows what the VR user is seeing
Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig
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Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig
Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig
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Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig

At Ford’s Innovation for Millions day, we had a rare opportunity to take a look into a few areas of Ford’s design center that are normally off limits, including the Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment. This virtual reality prototyping lab lets Ford designers walk around, sit in and interact with 3D models of their vehicles before a physical prototype has ever been made.

Ford’s Innovation for Millions day was a celebration of design and technology, and a clear indication of how important Ford sees its design center in Melbourne, Australia.

Throughout the day, journalists from around the country were allowed access to several areas that are normally off limits, including the SYNC 2 test rig area below.

Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig
Ford's SYNC 2 test mules - the entire electrical system of a car laid out on a test rig

The above image shows the full electrical system of an upcoming car model, laid out on a test bed and connected to Ford’s new SYNC 2 voice control system.

Apart from getting a glimpse of some new safety and driver assist features that will soon launch on new models, the highlight of the day was the Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment (FIVE) lab.

The FIVE lab, one of two of its kind, is a virtual vehicle prototyping room. In it sits a dummy car rig with only a seat and steering wheel, an 80-inch 4K monitor and a computer rig.

Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: bare test rig allows users to sit inside virtual cars
Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment: bare test rig allows users to sit inside virtual cars

Users wear a pair of VR goggles and a glove, each of which are monitored by 19 motion tracking cameras dotted around the walls to capture the precise location and orientation of the wearer’s head.

Putting the goggles on, you can load up CAD models of a vehicle, place them in a variety of different environments, and then walk around the car as if you’re in a showroom.

Sitting down into the test rig lets you experience the interior of the car, and the feeling is uncannily like sitting in a real car. The level of detail is extraordinary. Ford uses this virtual rig to test for quality, engineering issues, fit and finish of the CAD designs before they go to clay model or any other physical prototype.

You’re also free to plunge your head into the hood of the car to examine the engine within. The CAD models are detailed enough to include engine internals and interior finishes.

Enjoy a short video below demonstrating the FIVE lab (apologies for camera phone quality).

Source: Ford

Ford demonstrates virtual prototyping in Immersive Vehicle Environment

1 comment
EddieG
Thanks for this article. I would never have known this lab existed. Evidently there are still some parts of Ford that have eluded marketing control. Bravo! NASA conceived what we now call "telepresence" in the 80s as part of a plan to build the ISS (before it became "international"), but it was shelved because humans were cheaper. Even then, corporatism was beginning to stifle progress. Still, the stereo goggles and the Nintendo power glove fell out of it. That was 30 years ago. I am confident that if an infinite number of marketing wonks read an infinite number of Gizmag articles, a VR application for the common man will eventually result.