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Jaguar Land Rover at the British Science Festival: Engineering in a Virtual Reality World


Jaguar Land Rover engineers are looking to a future in which virtual reality supports all stages of new vehicle development, from initial design through engineering and testing to final market launch. This includes the introduction of a unique “virtual garage”.

Speaking today at the British Science Festival in Birmingham (14th -19th September), Andy Richardson, Manager of the Simulation Group at Jaguar Land Rover, outlined how the company already uses the latest computer aided design (CAD), analysis (CAE), systems engineering (CASE), and  manufacturing simulation (VME).

“Virtual reality’s contribution to the vehicle creation process has already been revolutionary and is growing all the time. It exceeds even our most inventive ideas for it. The next steps are perhaps even more exciting as we are currently researching a number of additions to the deployment of these technologies. Computing power and new applications such as augmented reality are gaining ground so quickly that we can now see a day when an entire car could be literally engineered on screen,” he said.

Computer-aided work includes: creating a three dimensional assembly of the complete vehicle; assessing geometric compatibility including dimensional variation; assessing and verifying component, system and vehicle performance and robustness through a range of customer operating conditions; simulation of the manufacturing and assembly process.

A focus for much of this work has been the creation of an innovative “virtual garage”. Developed with an investment of over £2.5 million, this is thought to be the world’s most advanced VR facility of any car company. It uses eight latest generation Sony 4K digital cinema projectors. These are both the largest available and have the highest resolution – four times better than Ultra HD TV. They are supported by 22 Sun Microsystems advanced PC computers, a bespoke touch screen interface for total system control, a one-way secure link to the Jaguar Land Rover network and an optical fibre network.

This facility is being used for interior and exterior design reviews including colours, trims and perceived quality. It supports engineers work through a virtual build of the vehicle for functions like crash simulation and analysis of aerodynamics, ergonomics, interior package and all-round vision. It is capable of supporting environmental improvements through development of parts and recycling and can help support warranty operations by amongst other things, analysing piping and cabling in the car. Finally, it can also provide virtual analysis of the manufacturing and assembly process and support the company’s servicing strategy.

Looking to the future, Richardson added: “We are looking into research with various universities into touch, tactility and haptic response in the virtual world, which will improve our work on ergonomics.

“We also want to create a virtual factory so that the assembly process can be fully assessed for efficiency, ergonomics and warranty issues. We will be adding a virtual driving simulation, including human machine interface capability and the ability to produce HD realistic photography and film to support launch and marketing.

“Augmented reality in the workplace will soon be possible for us too, playing a significant role in the design process, especially the study of selectable features and trim.”

“And perhaps our ultimate goal is to see the introduction of a modelling process that links and manages all component and sub-assembly relationships in a virtual space. This will allow us to create a 3-D virtual vehicle in a virtual study environment that is actually “morphable” on screen.

“The benefits of such a system would be wide-ranging. We could identify and even resolve design and feasibility issues earlier and more cost effectively. Accelerated development times would give us more opportunity for find higher quality technical solutions and we would reduce the overall development time to market with improved quality and robustness.”

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