Virtual cars saving Ford time and money on design


The award-winning engineers who have brought so many prestigious cars and commercial vehicles to Ford UK showrooms have spoken of how they are now designing their products with the help of virtual reality, leading to substantial savings on both time and money.

An extraordinary and ambitious system, the Computer Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE) that Ford have been working on is now in regular use by the historic manufacturers, and allows technicians to don 3D glasses and use sophisticated motion detectors to operate within an entirely realistic virtual landscape.  

As well as looking impressive, the CAVE crucially gives technicians the chance to sit within what is as close to a genuine physical prototype as it is possible to get, with stylistic and practical design changes now able to be completed in record quick time.

According to reports, the simulator is most useful and efficient when it comes to tweaking interior design modules such as dashboard switches, as making these minor but important adjustments to a real version of the car would take much longer to complete otherwise. Virtual reality supervisor Michael Wolf summed up the general feeling within the Ford camp, stating that the CAVE 'makes it so much quicker and easier to analyse designs', meaning that upcoming examples of the popular Ford Fiesta for sale and other similar models could be brought to market with increased speed.

Wolf also explained how even major changes can be completed comparatively quickly now, with, for example, the installation of three separate front pillar designs now feasible in just one or two days, as compared with the previous standard of over a week.

Financial savings will also inevitably occur as a result of the rolling out of CAVE, with less demand being placed on physical resources; it is hoped that these lower production costs will eventually trickle down to the market prices of Ford cars themselves, which are already recognised for their strong affordability.

Image credit: CG Hughes (flickr.com)