Designing cars in the traditional sense typically starts with a person at a desk sketching a two-dimensional car design which is then brought to life using full-size clay models. While this has been the ‘go-to’ method for most manufacturers, Nissan wants to find a less labour intensive and a more high-tech solution. Now, Nissan designers are now trying their hand at using HaptX VR gloves to create 3D models without clay.
Using VR technology in automotive engineering is not a new concept as Nissan and other carmakers already use virtual reality. They’ve used handheld controllers allowing designers to “draw” in a virtual environment or company executives viewing a finished virtual design. However, HaptX VR gloves claim that their technology gives designers much more control over their virtual models enabling a precise finish on the smallest of details.
How Does HaptX VR Gloves Work?
The HaptX VR gloves got its name as the technology uses haptic feedback which enables designers to “feel” the cars they are designing. While other VR systems allow designers to draw in a virtual environment, traditional clay models aren’t drawn but rather sculpted.
Combining the advanced technology with traditional sculpting means Nissan designers can effectively change the surfaces through touch, albeit virtual. This is much like how a sculptor would work with clay to shape the material and achieve a particular look.
If this technology isn’t impressive enough, HaptX VR gloves also provide another brilliant benefit. Compared to other VR tech where manufacturers just look at virtual models, HaptX VR allows users to actually grip the steering wheel or even turn up the volume by using the radio buttons. While that certainly brings next-level realism into the equation, it remains unclear just how accurately the HaptX VR gloves can account for different variables in terms of different materials as well as the action of switchgear.
What Virtual Reality Tech Means For Carmakers
It is essential in automotive manufacturing that designers and executives have access to a full-scale, three-dimensional model of a car. This allows everyone involved to ensure that the design is correct and accurate before anything is approved for production. While clay models have worked well for many years, it is expensive and also labour intensive to produce. The process often takes weeks which means designers must be selective about what gets done first according to the carmaker.
Sketching designs in three dimensions not only saves time but it also allows designers working in different areas of the company to collaborate on several projects in real time. Doing everything virtually enables all stakeholders at different facilities to see the same car design even if they are on opposite ends of the world.
Nissan has, in fact, created virtual models of their Leaf electric car and IMs concept car but no confirmation whether they used HaptX virtual reality. The IMs electric concept car was unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show with impressive design and functionality. They claim that the electric powertrain provides up to a 380-mile range and autonomous-driving capabilities.
It really goes without saying that it is much easier and more affordable to design a car model out of pixels rather than clay. If this is what virtual reality in 2019 has in store for us, what does the future of automotive engineering, and manufacturing as a whole, look like? For more interesting developments in the motoring world, please follows us on Facebook or keep reading our blogs.