Honda video shows us how it's using VR to design cars faster

Honda video shows us how it’s using VR to design cars faster

Explore the Honda VR Design Studio in Los Angeles with this all-new video and see how Honda is using cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality technology to accelerate production of modern vehicles. It’s no secret that virtual reality has become an essential tool for Honda designers when creating electric cars (EVs), which is why they are expanding its use to both Los Angeles and Japan. .

The 2024 Honda Prologue all-electric SUV was the first of its kind to be designed primarily through virtual reality visualization technology, which has proven invaluable when it comes to overcoming collaboration and efficiency challenges at the era of COVID-19.

“Our design teams used the latest VR technology to imagine Prologue in different environments and to accelerate cross-collaboration between Honda styling teams in the US and Japan,” said Mathieu Geslin, Honda VR Design Manager. “It’s an ongoing effort to further explore the technical capabilities of virtual and mixed reality at our development centers globally, and we’re really excited about what this will mean for Honda products of the future.”

You can see the video below (scroll further down for a summary and commentary).

The video begins by showing us the Prologue EV, a vehicle that’s supposed to be released next year. Unlike most Honda vehicles, the Prologue EV was primarily a design job. Honda started with GM’s upcoming Chevrolet Equinox EV, which will be based on the Ultium platform.

In the past, Honda has made some major missteps that left me shaking my head — like sending Clarity cars to the crusher and neglecting to introduce a Honda e or Acura MDX hybrid to U.S. markets. The latter is particularly daunting for us because my wife loves her MDX, but we didn’t have the option of upgrading it with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Fortunately, Honda decided to change direction in 2022. Clearly, the company saw that electric vehicles would be an indispensable part of the US and European markets in the future. And, we had to get back on track as soon as possible.

Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance, a partnership with GM – an EV lag behind Tesla – could be beneficial for catching up with other players. In recent years, GM has taken less risk, but it has been preparing for something special: tapping into an intact market segment of $30,000 to $35,000 cars. GM is determined to take on Tesla in the EV market, and it means just that with its recently reduced prices for the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models as well as a $30,000 Equinox EV model.

By providing assistance, GM offered Honda the ability to quickly serve a key industry and avoid having to start from scratch when developing its electric vehicle program, allowing it to stay ahead of the competition, or the unless you fall too far behind to the point of becoming completely irrelevant.

But that didn’t mean Honda could just buy vehicles from GM and trade the badges. In the past, companies have tried to do this kind of “badge engineering”, but buyers can see what they are doing and it could reflect badly on the company. He had to do something more to make the vehicle truly a Honda, despite the GM underpinnings.

Oh, and it had to happen FAST. And during a global pandemic that made in-person work and international travel much more difficult. So VR technology was a natural fit. After all, Honda had already been working on the idea of ​​using virtual reality for design since 2017, and just needed to put the techniques into action.

Previously, Honda’s designers did the traditional thing and started with a clay model, which they then turned into a digital model for further work and collaboration. This time they did it the other way around, starting with a digital design created in a VR environment and using only clay cuts later to verify that everything looks good in the real world.

Now, Honda has a 2,500 square foot space dedicated to virtual reality. The team needs all that space not only to model, but also to move in the real world around virtual models instead of just clicking and zooming with a mouse or something.

Another huge advantage for Honda was being able to collaborate virtually with designers around the world. The pandemic has made this impossible, but going forward, it will also reduce the environmental impact of the design and help things move faster, so the pandemic ended up giving the company something that will be useful later in shaking its pleas.

But it wasn’t just about strapping on an Oculus/Meta Quest and dancing around the living room. They actually created physical mock-ups of the vehicle to make the virtual reality match the real-world touch and feel. This allowed the designers to get a real feel for what the design would actually look like for drivers, which helped create a more usable design from the start.

All of this meant less switching later with other teams designing and building interiors, selecting materials, and more. Thus, the speed gained was very real.

Collaboration could also be real-time between teams from different continents. Instead of sending files or even blocks of clay back and forth, team members were able to review the same thing at the same time early in the design, meaning ideas and input from each ended up being part of the process sooner rather than later. Again, this was convenient, but it also added a lot of speed and efficiency to the process.

But, don’t think this is the end. Honda got a taste of what VR could do for it during the pandemic and the design of the Prologue’s unique Honda elements. So they are moving forward and trying to find ways to make VR do even more work in the future. The company looks forward to what this could mean not only for the convenience and speed of crew work, but also how it could help Honda make better electric vehicles in the future as it expands on platforms. all-Honda shapes.

Featured image courtesy of Honda.




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