How Fiat Chrysler is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
December 7, 2020
Using augmentative and virtual reality is now integral to a major automaker’s success. These new and innovative technologies are being embraced and being used in many aspects of the industry.
The auto industry has changed vastly since its conception. Buyers no longer look to vehicles to get to experiences but instead look for vehicles that provide an encompassing experience during the drive.
Augmentative and virtual reality was once all about creating virtual worlds that seemed to be exclusive to industries such as gaming.
However, today, gaming is not the only one seeing a wide range of potential for this technology.
As argumentative and virtual reality continues to advance, industries that have incorporated the technology into their processes have shaped the way augmentative and virtual reality are being utilized.
The auto industry has completely embraced using augmentative and virtual reality in various sectors.
Major automakers such as Ford and BMW are using augmentative and virtual reality to streamline and expand many of their processes from designing and manufacturing vehicles to sales.
Fiat Chrysler in particular is focusing their augmentative and virtual reality uses towards the designing and creation of their vehicles as well as introducing a much more immersive and engaging buying experience for their customers.
Creating efficient and effective working environments
Fiat Chrysler is using augmentative and virtual reality from the very beginning of their automobile process. This means not just integrating the technology into the process of creating a vehicle itself, but also using it to design its factories and plants.
At the Fiat Chrysler facility in Turin, Italy, the ImMErsive Technology room is a highly-evolved virtual laboratory that has become a truly innovative haven for designing and testing new manufacturing and product development processes.
This has been able to bring about a streamlined manufacturing process, reduced costs, and increases in quality and safety.
Engineering and manufacturing leads can interact and manipulate a virtual version of a plant and manipulate the layout and functionality of the various work settings within the plant.
This added layer of control helps to make manufacturing for Fiat even quicker and allows various teams to collaborate with one another.
Teamwork and collaborative creating is a key benefit to using augmentative and virtual reality for the Fiat Chrysler teams that are working in the ImMErsive Technology room. Sessions can take place using two different systems.
Using tools such as virtual reality headsets and controllers, workers can be paired together to work on the layout of a factory and virtually move around equipment as well as take measurements of the layout.
Another way workers can collaborate is through the “Power Wall” which is a six-meter-wide screen that pairs with stereo glasses and a controller that allows workers and teams to collaborate and discuss plant or factory layouts, issues, design modifications, enhancements, etc.
Teams can connect remotely using this technology to create a truly immersive virtual meeting that brings a more hands-on and collaborative experience.
Often communication between teams can take up a big chunk of the design process.
As one team makes modifications, the other has changes that will need to also be implemented. Instead of creating a neverending back and forth, this technology helps teams to collaborate in real-time on a model which helps to create a quicker line of communication and a clearer form of context.
The ImMErsive Technology room is especially useful for software engineers who can use it to program and simulate robotics before actually utilizing them in plants.
Fine-tuning the systems and software needed in development and production is often one of the most expensive and intensive parts of the automotive development and manufacturing process.
Allowing software engineers to test out and work on these robotics using augmented and virtual reality can allow for a cheaper and more efficient process.
The use of augmented and virtual reality in the ImMErsive Technology room has helped Fiat Chrysler to significantly cut costs and create a more effective and efficient manufacturing process without sacrificing their high-quality standards.
By using augmentative and virtual reality to help design the actual manufacturing process, Fiat is among the first to use such advanced technology in such a way.
While many other major automakers are integrating augmentative and virtual reality in areas after production, such as with repair technicians or dealerships, Fiat has focused on implementing the technology at an often overlooked but pivotal area in manufacturing automobiles, the plants themselves.
In using this technology at the primary level, Fiat has been able to create a production line that detects issues earlier on and is able to fix them before a vehicle is even sent into production.
This has cut down costs in manufacturing and has elevated their standards of quality as well as overall safety.
Creating experiences for buyers
Along with innovation at the manufacturing level, Fiat Chrysler is bringing new forms of augmentative and virtual reality to their dealerships and showrooms.
Bringing the immersive experience of purchasing a vehicle to their buyers in a much more hands-on approach.
Roadshows are often the primary way consumers and the market, in general, can view upcoming vehicles and models.
Roadshows are often a way to showcase new and innovative tech that major automakers are adopting in order to one-up their competition. Fiat Chrysler drummed up interest in its new vehicle in 2014 by creating an immersive experience for their audiences.
In order to attract and mesmerize viewers, Fiat created a driving sequence that goes above and beyond the rest.
Featuring the magician Dynamo, the film integrated virtual reality headsets that allowed viewers to feel as if they are sitting in the car as Dynamo controls the ride. This gives the viewer a feel for what it might be like to actually sit in the vehicle.
Fiat also made the film available to view on phones using Google’s mobile virtual reality service, Cardboard.
This marketing strategy helped to build excitement and interest around the 500X which was released at the time. The experience since then has become a staple at roadshows and many other major automakers now incorporate a similar experience to their roadshow displays.
Creating custom vehicles virtually
Fiat Chrysler has introduced a new way to shop for vehicles. Built by tech company Accenture Digital using Google’s Project Tango, Fiat Chrysler is introducing a more customizable and interactive shopping experience for consumers.
“It’s the future of the dealership,” said Matteo Albberti, digital innovation lead for Accenture Interactive, in an interview with cNet, “We can give the perfect experience to the customer.”
The future of dealerships will eventually rely heavily on [virtual showrooms] that buyers can access from the comfort of their homes.
Startup companies like RelayCars are banking on the trend that more and more consumers are buying online and the shift to buying cars online will be inevitable.
Consumers are also looking for ways to get more customization for their vehicles and a great way to see this before purchasing is by using a virtual showroom or apps that are using augmentative and virtual reality to project a model of a vehicle that can be modified.
Many major automakers are already using virtual showrooms to allow greater access for their potential buyers to view vehicles that are available for purchase.
However, Fiat Chrysler takes it one step further with their new augmented reality shopping experience.
Using the Project Tango based device, shoppers are able to view a full-scale Fiat 500 on the screen as if the vehicle is right in front of them.
The device uses motion and location sensors to help users view the car at different angles.
The device even allows for users to “ go into” a car to view the interior of the vehicle with highly detailed 3D images. The experience becomes multi-sensory as users are even able to tap on the radio to play music and honk the horn.
Users can also modify and customize their vehicle on the program, both the interior and exterior. This gives consumers so many more options than ever before and allows them to view versions that might not even be available at the dealership.
In fact, most major automakers are using these advanced technologies in various ways.
However, few seem to be taking the approach that Fiat Chrysler is with the technology. Most automakers are seemingly using augmentative and virtual reality in very similar ways to the point that its usage is almost cliched in the field.
Fiat Chrysler has decided to use these innovative forms of technology not just to be a top player in the game, but to use it to create meaningful and creative connections and solutions for their workers and consumers.