January 29, 2008 Prototyping and modeling chew up a large amount of time in the automotive design process, which is why Jaguar and Land Rover have decided to invest US$4 million in a state-of-the-art, immersive 360-degree virtual reality 'CAVE' that will allow designers to present their CAD designs in full 3D glory. This virtual prototyping system will allow unprecedented access to the designs, letting viewers experience the cars from all angles, inside and out, trialling colour schemes and switching parts on the fly or making body panels transparent. Overseen by 3D gurus Holovis International, the system promises to significantly reduce development times – and on top of that, it's ridiculously cool.

The plans for a new industry-leading design facility that will draw on advanced audio visual technologies with the projection power of eight cinemas to significantly speed up product development cycles.

Some $4million is to be invested in a state-of-the-art "Virtual Reality Centre" which will allow engineers and designers to see in life-size three-dimension, models of vehicles and components. It will reduce the need for physical prototypes, saving both time and money in the process.

The most advanced facility of its kind in the world, Jaguar and Land Rover's four-walled "cave'" draws on projection power equivalent to eight hi-tech cinemas and will provide a virtual reality environment simulating vehicle exteriors and interiors and capable of making bodywork appear transparent.

"This is a key advance in our development toolbox," said Al Kammerer, Product Development Director for Jaguar and Land Rover. "The awesome power of this project is unparalleled in our industry worldwide and will allow us to produce new vehicles on a much quicker timeline, to update and develop more responsively to customer trends and to be considerably more efficient as well."

Eight Sony SRX-S105 high resolution projectors – each as powerful as the strongest projector used in any of today's hi-tech cinemas – will provide a visual quality that clearly outstrips existing industry virtual reality caves by producing photo realistic images. The user wears 3-D glasses to experience 'ultimate realism' with an ultra-high resolution that is twice as clear as the latest High Definition TV.

Working in partnership with Sony, Sun Microsystems and ICIDO, Midlands-based HoloVis International Ltd is bringing together all of the different components of the project to design, install and support the next-generation virtual environment for Jaguar and Land Rover.

Raj Pandya, General Manager, Sony UK added: "We have been working closely with HoloVis International who have developed this innovative solution for Jaguar and Land Rover and the automotive industry. The Sony 4K projectors are four times the resolution of High Definition, meaning it is almost impossible to see pixels on this size screen. These projectors are now going to affect the auto market in a drastic way."

The new Virtual Reality cave is due to be completed and operational at Jaguar and Land Rover's Gaydon engineering centre by spring 2008. For more information on virtual 3D CAVE environments, check out the Univeristy of Michigan's 3D Lab.