How Volkswagen is Using Augmented and Virtual Reality
November 23, 2020
Experts have predicted that augmented and virtual reality technologies will completely transform the automotive industry in the future. But some companies aren’t waiting for the future. Instead, these companies are already starting to use augmented and virtual reality technology to gain a competitive edge.
One of these companies is Volkswagen, which is one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. This German automotive manufacturer was founded over 80 years ago. Throughout its history, Volkswagen has been known for embracing new technologies and setting trends in the industry. Now, it is one of the first automotive companies to lead when it comes to using augmented and virtual reality.
Here are some of the many ways Volkswagen is using these innovative technologies:
Design Production Lines
Earlier this year, Volkswagen began preparing for production of the new Atlas Cross Sport in its factory located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Part of this preparation process involved designing production lines within the factory.
To complete this task, the Volkswagen Virtual Engineering Lab created innovative augmented reality software based on feedback submitted from technicians and other workers. The software allowed the factory’s team to plan where each piece of equipment would go so they could create the most efficient production line possible.
How did it work? To use this software, the team simply had to put on an augmented reality headset. Then, the software used augmented reality technology to project each individual part of the production line onto their environment. This allowed the team to figure out the best way to arrange the individual parts within the factory to create an efficient and functional production line.
It also helped the team identify and address potential safety issues. For example, the team was able to identify pinch points between machinery that would have otherwise not been visible. Identifying these areas in advance gave the team time to adjust the design and resolve these issues before production began.
Using augmented reality technology in this manner helped Volkswagen create a safer, more productive workplace.
Virtual reality technology has simplified the design process for engineers at Volkswagen. In the past, these engineers built clay prototypes of new Volkswagen models. Then, the entire team would have a chance to explore the clay prototype, identify issues, and make necessary changes. If changes were needed, the team would have to build a new clay prototype that reflected these changes. This process would continue until the design of the new model was finalized.
But now, the team relies on virtual reality technology to build digital prototypes of new models. The engineers can still explore the vehicle, identify issues, and make necessary changes just like they used to do. But they no longer need to waste time on building multiple clay prototypes. Instead, they can quickly make changes to the digital prototype until the design has been finalized.
Using virtual reality in this manner allows Volkswagen to reduce the amount of time that it takes to design new vehicles. It also reduces the cost of designing a new vehicle since engineers no longer need to build expensive clay prototypes. Plus, since the process is virtual, designers from around the world can all collaborate on the same design with ease.
Improve Safety Features
The ID.3 is Volkswagen’s first mass-produced electric car. It’s also the first Volkswagen vehicle that is designed with a heads-up display supported by augmented reality technology.
This heads-up display has a number of different features that will keep drivers safe on the road. First, the heads-up display will help drivers stay focused on the road ahead by projecting navigational directions directly onto the driver’s windshield. Drivers will no longer need to look down at their smartphone or GPS device to see where they need to go to reach their final destination.
For example, digital arrows may be projected onto the driver’s windshield to let the driver know when and where they need to turn to get to their final destination. They won’t need to glance at their phone to see these directions. As a result, this feature could prevent traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers.
The system is also designed to project flags, warning signs, and other digital objects onto the driver’s windshield whenever potential hazards are detected on the road. This will alert drivers to pedestrians, bicyclists, sharp turns, and other potential dangers that they may encounter.
Using augmented reality technology in this manner allows Volkswagen to create a safer, more enjoyable driving experience for their consumers.
Allow Consumers to Explore New Models
The Volkswagen T-Cross was released in 2018 in select markets around the world, including Brazil. To get consumers excited about the T-Cross, Volkswagen partnered with a marketing firm to create a unique augmented reality app that would allow consumers to explore the vehicle before it arrived at dealerships.
The app uses augmented reality technology to project a 3-D digital rendering of the T-Cross onto the consumer’s real world environment. Then, consumers can explore the vehicle in this virtual showroom just as they would if they were viewing it in a real showroom.
Using the app, consumers can walk around the outside of the vehicle, open the doors, pull back the sunroof, and explore the interior of the T-Cross. They can also test out certain design features, including the vehicle’s park assist system.
After exploring the vehicle, consumers could also snap a photo of the 3-D digital rendering of the T-Cross to save to their phone’s photos. This made it easy for consumers to share their augmented reality experience with their loved ones.
Launching this augmented reality app was a great way to build excitement and ensure that consumers had the information they needed to make a purchase decision right at their fingertips.
Train New Employees
In 2018, Volkswagen announced plans to use virtual reality technology to simplify the process of training new employees. The company revealed that the technology would be used to train over 10,000 employees of Volkswagen, Audi, SKODA, and other brands owned by Volkswagen Group.
The virtual training courses cover a wide range of topics, including vehicle assembly, general new employee training, and customer service. New content is uploaded on a regular basis, so employees can continue to participate in training courses as needed.
There are several benefits to using virtual reality technology to train employees. First, employees can attend virtual training sessions from anywhere, so there’s no need to travel to an on-site location. This makes training employees far less expensive and more convenient for both the company and workers.
If a new factory is being built, Volkswagen does not have to wait until it is complete to start training workers. Using virtual training, Volkswagen can make sure that all new employees are completely trained and ready to start working as soon as the factory is open.
It also gives employees the opportunity to complete training courses at their own pace. If they want to spend more time on a certain topic, they have the option to do so.
Thanks to virtual technology, Volkswagen has now found an easier and more efficient way to train employees.
Get Assistance With Repairs
Volkswagen is one of the few automotive manufacturers that now uses virtual reality technology for maintenance and repair issues.
The company sent virtual reality headsets to select dealerships around the world. If the dealership runs into a complex issue while performing maintenance or making repairs, they can use their headset to get help in real-time from experts at the company’s headquarters.
For example, say a repairman is having trouble identifying the cause of an electrical issue on a Volkswagen vehicle. In this case, he can put on the virtual reality headset to get help from an expert. The expert can then project certain images, step-by-step instructions, or how-to videos onto the repairman’s field of view so they know how to identify the issue and make the necessary repairs.
Using this technology can drastically reduce the amount of time that it takes to make complex repairs. However, Volkswagen is only using virtual reality technology for maintenance and repairs assistance for commercial vehicles. But if this test run is successful, it’s possible that Volkswagen may decide to roll this service out to maintenance and repairs assistance on all vehicles.
Host Virtual Auto Shows
Many automotive manufacturers, including Volkswagen, introduce new makes and models at auto shows. These events typically attract thousands of consumers, but consumers who don’t live close to the location of the auto show may not be able to make the trip in order to attend. To expand its reach, Volkswagen now uses virtual reality technology to host virtual auto shows that take place at the same time as the in-person auto shows.
In April, Volkswagen hosted one of its first virtual auto shows. Visitors were able to virtually walk into the Volkswagen exhibition booth, explore vehicles from every angle, and customize vehicles by changing the exterior color, wheels, and other features. Basically, these virtual guests were able to experience the auto show in the same way that they would have if they had attended the event in person.
By hosting these virtual auto shows, Volkswagen is able to reach and engage with a wider audience. This is a great way to get consumers around the world excited about the release of new makes and models of Volkswagen vehicles.
Volkswagen may be one of the first automotive manufacturers to embrace the use of augmented and virtual reality, but it certainly won’t be the last. In the years ahead, many other companies will follow Volkswagen’s lead and find new and exciting ways to use these technologies in the automotive industry.