[YesAuto Fresh Technology Interpretation] Device controllers are certainly no strangers to the term VR. When I got off work the other day, I saw a colleague sitting at the workstation wearing a “big eye mask” on his head. He was not sleeping, but I'm looking at something with VR glasses… If you can play games during work hours, let alone those things, there is such a place to do it.

VR, the full name (Virtual Reality), the Chinese name is “virtual reality technology”, in fact, it is not a new product, VR technology appeared as early as the last century, but the new technology is always difficult to popularize due to the high hardware price. The entry of giants has warmed it up and is one step closer to us. The true value of VR technology on the earth is not just as simple as watching movies and playing games. Putting it in industrial production has transformed it into An efficient little money-saving expert.

FIVE Lab-like playing a 3D somatosensory game

When we walked into a laboratory with an abstract name, an engineer was standing in the center of the room with a flashlight in his hand, searching for something with the rhythm of an astronaut. He was designing the interior of the man-machine. Engineering experience. If it weren't for the VR device on the head of the R&D staff and the synchronized picture displayed on the background wall behind, they would really not understand their world. This is the scene in a room called “FIVE”.

FIVE≠Five

When many friends see this name, the first thing they feel is “five”. Where did one, two, three, and four go? In fact, the name of “FIVE” does not mean “five”, it is just an abbreviation. The full name is “Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment”, or Virtual Environment Laboratory , which is also Ford's most cutting-edge research and development project. There are two laboratories around the world. One is at the Ford R&D Center in Dearborn, Michigan, which we are visiting today, and the other is at the Ford Asia Pacific R&D Center outside of Melbourne.

Reduce pre-development costs

To put it simply, FIVE laboratory’s auxiliary target is the vehicle’s pre-development process, which is to help designers more efficiently choose “yes” and “no” among various design schemes, or to repeatedly optimize details. These modifications and optimizations can be completed as long as the data is changed and the virtual model is regenerated. This saves much more than the repeated production of the physical model, and the work efficiency has also been improved by a level. You must know that if you have entered the prototype car manufacturing stage, every modification The detailed physical model is quite costly and costly. To achieve such an effect, VR technology must be mentioned.

The VR helmet worn by the R&D staff is the window through which the user observes the virtual world, as well as the position coordinates. It is combined with gloves and flashlights to form a position coordinate “suit”. There are 19 infrared cameras on the walls around the laboratory, which will monitor The position coordinates of this three-piece suit are processed and a CAD model is generated and displayed. Moreover, these 19 cameras are redundant configurations to ensure accuracy. Engineers said that each action can be achieved with 2-3 practical ones. Moreover, Ford is currently refurbishing and expanding the FIVE laboratory.

After the engineer puts on this set of equipment, he can walk around the vehicle in all directions to observe all the details on the vehicle, such as the interior, exterior, transparent body, hand-painted effects, mold effects, actual effects, and even the cross-section of the structure. You can switch between these modes with the remote control in your hand, and you can have a panoramic view of all the external and internal structures.

If you are a gamer with detailed control, you will love it. I think Ford's R&D staff will also enjoy it while working, and PC users like me can only leave their knees in this laboratory.

In addition to saving R&D costs, virtual R&D can also improve work efficiency. This can greatly shorten the R&D cycle of a new car and get a lot of information without leaving home. For example, in the virtual model, the car can be placed in different virtual scenes, such as docks, kilometers, deserts and even some classic locations in the United States, and there are day and night options, so that it can be in different light environments Observe the three-dimensional effect created by the line shape of the car body, and complete these actions in minutes. More time is left for more important things-discussing the optimization plan, using real cars to complete the observation of these scenes, and the speed should also be measured in days. Calculated for the unit. In addition, you can also perform virtual experience on the gaps in the door and other parts, and the vehicle configuration.

The simulation is quite delicate!

In the short display process, I found a very pleasant detail. When the engineer observed the perspective of the simulated car, I found that the edge of the front windshield glass actually imitated the effect of refraction, just when I was thinking about it. At that time, the engineer talked to me with a special explanation: this system can simulate the perspective and refraction of glass, including whether the center console will form a reflection on the windshield in the sun and affect driving. This fineness It's far beyond my imagination.

Virtual manufacturing laboratory-facing the manufacturing process

When I walked into this laboratory, I felt the same as the FIVE laboratory described above. The hardware is also virtual reality operating equipment and infrared monitoring equipment, but a gearbox model in the center of the laboratory tells us that this is not used to develop a complete vehicle. room. To summarize briefly: The FIVE laboratory mentioned above is a laboratory set up for product research and development , while a virtual manufacturing laboratory is a laboratory set up for optimization of production links .

It is difficult to achieve full optimization in the manufacturing process, so unreasonable links may have problems, such as process settings, unreasonable equipment installation, loss of parts caused by unreasonable equipment installation, errors in the installation process, ergonomics and workpieces The weight problem has a negative impact on the health of workers and even industrial injuries.

In the current automobile production process, the assembly shop needs to assemble a large number of parts and is difficult to operate. It is also the workshop with the most manual operations among the four major processes of automobile production. Therefore, it is necessary to optimize the ergonomics of the operation process. , Is also the most important object faced by the virtual manufacturing laboratory.

Working in this laboratory is not as simple as playing games in the virtual world every day. It is using the power of a team to solve N kinds of problems that may occur on the production line in the future. The optimization aspects can be roughly summarized as: worker movement range, manual work Difficulties in assembly and simulated installation of new car parts . When talking about workload, engineers said that after this technology is put into research and development projects, ergonomics experts will evaluate nearly 1,000 virtual assembly operations before each new car is released. I think Ford employees will do it for them. The leader likes it. Let’s open up your mind, will Ford’s future recruitment job recommendations for new production positions be smoother?

The virtual manufacturing experiment is aimed at the production line of brand new models, not the existing production line. For example, Ford is optimizing the production line process of the future 2021 Ford Explorer this year, which means that it can eliminate as early as possible the production line that may affect production. Factors, if the production line is optimized in the later stage, it will cost more unnecessary funds. It is like the overall decoration of a new house. The pipeline embedding work is well done, so the cost and effect are very comfortable. If it is found that the basic details need to be changed when the construction is completed, the dynamics and costs are better than There is a lot more in one place, one truth.

Video display:

Since the part we saw this time is only a model for display, there is no chance to see more information, but whether it is the FIVE laboratory for product development or the virtual manufacturing laboratory for production optimization, their laboratory Data will be shared with R&D centers in other regions of the world. In order to improve transmission efficiency, Ford has installed FIVE laboratory design software in all centers, and only a set of data is transmitted, so the cost of sharing will be greatly reduced, so Simultaneously playing a virtual reality model car is like a tall video conference call.

3D physical model

The optimization ability of virtual reality technology is incomparable to the traditional model, but it cannot completely replace the traditional. In addition to simulating the operation situation in the assembly workshop with VR, this laboratory can also make 1:1 3D printed part models with arm thickness Different employees can test the size of the gaps on the car assembly parts through 3D printing molds, and actually feel whether the installation space is reasonable by hand operation, and at the same time can better control the error rate.

Because the characteristics of materials used in different parts of the vehicle are different, there are hard steel, glass, and soft rubber parts, so some special parts need to be added with material properties, such as a tube in a car. If you install a part at the intersection of the road, you may come to a conclusion that “this part is not easy to operate” if you simply talk about the virtual model or the 3D printed physical model, but if the material factor is added, the hose can be regarded as basically not affecting the operation Yes, so a certain model alone cannot be the king, and a reasonable combination of all aspects can optimize the research results.

VIRTTEX laboratory-collect user feedback

VIRTTEX is the name of another laboratory of Ford R&D Center. It is a set of comprehensive simulation equipment of environmental simulation + VR simulation, and it is also a relatively mature simulation technology. This laboratory has been working for Ford for more than 10 years since its establishment. Its main research object is part of the active safety function or the driver in a simulated driving environment. From the actual experience of the participants, it is much more real than the pure virtual reality world.

The most conspicuous thing in the laboratory is a white sphere, about two stories high. Friends who have watched 4D movies (some places are called 5D, right…) can easily replenish their brains. The experience process is like playing a super real Driving games are average. There is a real car inside the sphere. This seemingly ordinary car is equipped with various computers and sensors. The space behind the B-pillar of the car is full. The rear view from sitting in the car depends on the display. Realized by the screen, everything outside the car window is also a virtual image. To use an image metaphor, it is the effect of replacing the screen of the car theater with the dome of the planetarium. It would be great if there were such a game console at home.

Video display:

The main research projects in this laboratory are mostly about active safety. By collecting the driver's response to different situations, it can reversely optimize the functions of merging assistance, lane departure warning system, active braking and other functions. In addition, the convenience of using some functions on the vehicle can also be optimized here, such as how to operate multimedia during driving more convenient and safer, the UI optimization of the SYNC 3 system that Ford’s new generation models will be equipped with is here. of.

Compared with the two virtual laboratories introduced in the previous article, apart from the difference in the degree of virtuality, the personnel involved in the simulation are also different. The participants in the FIVE laboratory and the virtual manufacturing laboratory are all R&D personnel, engineers, designers and experts in various fields. The VIRTTEX laboratory is mainly used to collect feedback on user habits. Ford will conduct a thorough investigation and confirm the appropriate After that, users will be notified by e-mail to participate in the experience. At present, more than 4000 people have experienced it in this simulator.

Concluding remarks

Business is all about maximizing profits. The research and development cost of a car is absolutely the top priority of the total cost of the car, and virtualized research and development has become a logical product. And in this virtualized mode, there may be more value-added benefits. Maybe one day we will directly help an automobile manufacturer design on the Internet. Maybe our children and grandchildren don’t know what a 4S shop is, just quietly. How about knowing everything about a product in front of the computer, or even driving it on a racetrack first… or building and buying a car will be a game in the future.