How Volkswagen is developing the car of the future virtually

16.11.2017
How Volkswagen is developing the car of the future virtually

At the Volkswagen Labs, specialists are working on the digital future together with research institutions and technology partners, creating new solutions in the fields of big data, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, connectivity, mobility services and virtual reality.

The Virtual Engineering Lab in Wolfsburg is one of the six labs opened by Volkswagen Group IT around the world, with others in Munich, Berlin, San Francisco and Barcelona. Frank Ostermann, 52, heads the structure; he watches closely the work of the team, in particular some software which could revolutionise the work of engineers and designers.

Dipendenti del gruppo Volkswagen progettano delle auto virtualmente

Miracles of augmented reality

In the center of the room, there is a 1:4 scale model of a Golf. Frank Ostermann inspects the model, and then he changes its wheels, replaces the rear lights and modifies the wing mirrors. Ostermann uses voice commands and gestures to change the design. It is all completed in a matter of seconds. Ostermann is wearing “HoloLens” mixed-reality goggles. The mobile computer developed by Microsoft projects virtual content onto a physical object through gesture control and voice commands: Ostermann only needs to point his finger and the HoloLens projects a different paint color onto the Golf, installs different wheels or modifies the fenders. Initially, the Golf was an R-Line model but it then became an entirely new version. 

Industry 4.0 at its best

“At Volkswagen, we have been using augmented reality and virtual reality for some time, mainly to obtain a three-dimensional view”, says Ostermann. “We are now taking a major step forward at the Virtual Engineering Lab. We are transforming this technology into a tool for Technical Development”. This will allow Volkswagen engineers to work on a virtual vehicle, to change its equipment as they wish and even to design new components virtually. They will immediately be able to see the results of their work, saving on development costs and time.

The cars of the future will be developed using virtual reality

The HoloLens allows several project teams to work at the same time but in different places, for example teams from Wolfsburg, Chattanooga and Shanghai. The teams can directly follow and compare minimal changes to the model and then make a decision. This means that they can reach their goal faster. 

Currently, the HoloLens software is still in the trial phase. In the future, it will allow users to call up the entire Volkswagen brand model portfolio and to present different body versions of a model in all conceivable variants: the developers will then be able to virtually transform a saloon into an SUV, an estate car, a convertible or a coupé.

Source: Volkswagen AG