AR in the Automotive Production Process
September 22, 2021
The automotive industry is constantly changing as a result of new technologies. The automotive industry often uses innovative technologies to provide new in-vehicle services or features. But sometimes, automotive manufacturers use new technologies behind the scenes instead. A recent example of this is augmented reality technology, which automotive manufacturers are now using to improve the vehicle production process from start to finish.
What is augmented reality? How does the automotive industry use augmented reality? Here’s what you should know about AR in the automotive production process:
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose various digital elements onto their surroundings in the real world. Users can choose from a wide range of digital elements, including images, audio clips, and videos. In simpler terms, it changes the user’s perception of the real world by adding elements from the digital world to it.
Some augmented reality experiences can only be accessed using a headset or a pair of specially designed glasses. However, many augmented reality experiences can be accessed using just a smartphone or tablet. In fact, the most well-known application of augmented reality is Pokemon Go, which is a smartphone app that launched in 2016.
Although augmented reality is often associated with gaming, it has many other applications outside of the gaming world. Now, it is used in countless fields, including the automotive, healthcare, education, retail, ecommerce, and tourism industries.
Augmented Reality in the Automotive Production Process
Augmented reality is used for a number of different purposes in the automotive production process, including:
- Employee Training
- Workstation Planning
- Designing New Vehicles
- Route Guiding
Before the vehicle production process begins, automotive manufacturers use augmented reality technology to train new employees on the assembly line.
One of these manufacturers is BMW, which uses augmented reality technology to conduct training sessions for engine assembly units. Training participants are given augmented reality glasses, which they can use to access detailed visualizations on how to assemble different engine parts. There are unique visualizations for every step, so the glasses guide participants through the entire process.
Using augmented reality to provide training allows participants to move at their own pace, so they can spend more time on topics they find challenging. It also helps automotive manufacturers train more people at once. Augmented reality allowed BMW to increase their training sessions from one participant to three participants.
Augmented reality training is just as effective as traditional training, too. BMW has used augmented reality to train employees for several years. After conducting surveys, the company found that there was no difference in quality between augmented reality and traditional training sessions.
Some automotive manufacturers also use augmented reality to plan production plant layouts.
If an automotive manufacturer is building a new production plant, for example, they can use augmented reality software to project true-to-size digital models of equipment and tools into the empty space. This way, they can see where everything fits and visualize what the plant will look like once it’s complete.
This helps automotive manufacturers save time and money. Without augmented reality technology, manufacturers would need to waste time and money on building detailed models of production plant layouts. But now, they can use augmented reality technology to quickly create layouts that will increase the efficiency of the production process.
Designing New Vehicles
In the past, automotive manufacturers had to create clay prototypes of new vehicle designs. If the design was changed, the engineers had to create another clay prototype from scratch to reflect the revisions. But now, automotive engineers can use augmented reality technology to improve the efficiency of the design process.
Engineers use augmented reality software to create digital models of new designs. Then, they project the digital model into their real world environment so other engineers can examine the design and give feedback. Changes can be made directly to the digital model, so engineers won’t need to waste time or money on building a new clay prototype.
Using augmented reality technology in this way helps automotive manufacturers speed up the time it takes to finalize the design of a new vehicle. Thanks to this technology, manufacturers can quickly move new designs into production.
Automotive manufacturers rely heavily on augmented reality technology during the actual manufacturing process. Many manufacturers now give their assembly line workers access to augmented reality glasses. If an employee needs help assembling a certain part, they can use these glasses to look up the information they need.
The glasses can project detailed instructions onto the employee’s real world environment. This way, the employee can get help without having to leave the assembly line, ask someone else for assistance, or waste time flipping through a user manual. All of the information will be projected right in front of them so they can reference it while they assemble the car part.
Using augmented reality in this manner speeds up the assembly process and ensures parts are put together correctly.
The warehouses that store various automotive parts are huge. Employees who work in these warehouses must study the layout to remember where everything is so they can quickly find the parts they need while on the clock. Fortunately, augmented reality technology makes it much easier for employees to find what they’re looking for regardless of the size of the warehouse.
Augmented reality technology is used as a route guide in large automotive warehouses. To access this feature, employees must put on a pair of augmented reality glasses. The glasses will then project navigational instructions directly onto the wearer’s real world environment. For example, it will tell them when to turn down an aisle and which shelf to look at when searching for a part.
This can drastically improve the productivity of warehouse workers.
Automotive Augmented Reality in the Post-Production Process
There’s no doubt that augmented reality technology has led to significant improvements in the production process in the automotive industry. But the automotive industry has also found new and exciting ways to use this technology in the post-production process.
For example, some manufacturers have used augmented reality to create virtual automotive showrooms for consumers. Now, automotive consumers no longer need to travel to different dealerships in order to explore vehicles and gather the information they need to make a purchase decision. Instead, they can step inside a virtual showroom powered by augmented reality using their smartphone or tablet.
They can select which vehicle they want to explore once they are inside the showroom. Then, they can use augmented reality technology to project a three-dimensional, realistic digital model of the vehicle into their real world surroundings. They can even look inside the vehicle to see what it would be like to sit behind the wheel. Automotive consumers can experience all of this and more without ever leaving home thanks to augmented reality technology.
Augmented reality is also used as a marketing tool in the post-production world. This technology can be used to create unique experiences that help automotive manufacturers connect with consumers and promote the launch of new vehicles.
For example, Audi introduced an augmented reality app that was triggered by the company’s TV commercials. Whenever the commercial aired, the app would automatically launch on the consumer’s phone. Then, the app would use augmented reality technology to make the cars jump out of the TV screen and into the consumer’s living room.
From pre-production to post-production, augmented reality technology has completely disrupted the way the automotive industry operates.