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In highly competitive sectors, the use of new technologies is among the key success factors. The automotive sector is one of the areas in which this phenomenon is most evident.Today we design, promote and sell a car thanks to Virtual Reality. Automotive companies exploit its potential for various purposes, saving financial resources and reaching the market in less time.
Let's see how Virtual Reality impacts on the automotive sector.
The design process is one of the most expensive and time-consuming stages. The design of a new car requires continuous improvements, revisions and tests. If work was carried out exclusively on physical models, frequent design changes would cause an increase of the overall development costs.
If errors in the design of a car can generate budget overruns and delays in timing, prototyping via Virtual Reality minimizes these inconveniences. In fact, creating a digital prototype and testing it in Virtual Reality reduces the time and effort necessary to then build the physical one. Many intermediate steps are skipped, arriving at the final result without fail.
But that's not all. The collaborative mode of many Virtual Reality platforms (see for example our FrameS) allows different designers to work together and simultaneously on the same model, while physically being in different places.
Virtual Reality can affect the design process even more deeply. Designers generally define car design through CAD software. If normally these software anticipate 3D modeling or exporting to Virtual Reality, there are solutions such as Mindesk that allow you to design the project directly from scratch in Virtual Reality, through a totally immersive work experience.
Virtual Reality, therefore, is radically changing the vehicle design process, making it faster and more accessible: in the face of a rather limited technological investment, car manufacturers can reduce design time and development costs.
In recent times, training has been an area in which Virtual Reality has been widely used, particularly in the automotive sector.
To train their workers to assemble cars, most automakers have so far used an approach based on human observation. In practice, after the theoretical training, the new hires get to work on the factory automations under the control of expert workers. This is the most delicate phase, in which workers can make mistakes, causing damage to the models or to themselves.
Virtual Reality, on the other hand, allows new recruits to learn the tasks they will be assigned to in a virtual environment: any mistakes made will have no real consequences. With this system, Virtual Reality makes training more efficient and safer, refining the technical skills of staff and preparing them for the dangerous situations that they will eventually face.
The virtual training system of one of the world's leading car manufacturers is achieving great results: employee accidents have decreased by 70%, while ergonomic problems have decreased by 90%.
The showroom of a traditional dealer cannot contain neither all the variants of a car model, nor all the models marketed by the car manufacturer. This means that the buyer often does not see what he is buying: until the car physically arrives at the dealership, he cannot really evaluate the type of color chosen for the exterior, the interior finishes, the customizable details. The various online configurators are certainly useful for getting an idea, but they have a low level of realism.
Virtual Reality then helps both the seller and the buyer, allowing you to view the model of the car you want and customize it as you wish. Through a VR viewer, customers can configure their car in every detail, choosing from the various equipment options. Simulations and even more advanced technological equipment also allow you to recreate driving experiences in the virtual environment. All of this positively influences customers' purchasing decisions, since they can finally experience what they are about to buy.
As we have anticipated, having a virtual showroom - which can be updated quickly and easily - is also a great advantage for dealers, who can avoid renting large areas or placing many cars in the physical showroom. With Virtual Reality, dealers thus have a perfect sales tool at their disposal.
Virtual Reality adds value to the product not only during the final step of the sale, but in every phase of marketing. The automotive brands that marry this technology in the events they organize, in the promotional campaigns, at the fairs or in the accessory equipment of the car, plant a flag on the planet of innovation: the early adoption of these technologies brings brands a great return in terms of image.
Think of the Virtual Reality applications in car entertainment: some brands have launched software that allows passengers with a viewer to experience exciting adventures, with virtual experience scenarios that move in synchronization with the motion of the vehicle.
Other types of software instead combine fun with education. For example, a well-known automotive brand has launched a sort of driving school in Virtual Reality designed for young people: thanks to an excellent simulation of road traffic, the platform teaches children to avoid distractions while driving.
In this perspective, Virtual Reality is therefore a valuable resource for car manufacturers in terms of marketing, helping to create engaging experiences for tomorrow's customers, partners and consumers.
In recent times, self-driving cars have been the focus of interest for several car manufacturers. However, ensuring these vehicles have a high level of safety is quite complicated.
The main difficulty in developing this type of cars is the complexity of the algorithms necessary for the vehicle to face the road. The only way to "teach" a self-driving car to be truly autonomous is to let it learn, covering thousands of kilometers and storing a huge amount of data. A process that takes years, even using the most sophisticated test software, ie the system that analyzes traffic scenarios and helps the car to "understand" how it should behave.
However, car manufacturers can drastically reduce the time needed to train their vehicles by having the tests run in Virtual Reality: in this way, instead of driving for thousands of real kilometers, the tests are carried out in virtual environments, allowing the software to learn faster and the manufacturer to cut costs for fuel and repairs.
Plus, if the road tests of self-driving cars cannot be performed without a person on board, in the tests with Virtual Reality the presence of a human being is not necessary.
As we have seen, Virtual Reality helps automotive brands reduce time-to-market and vehicle design costs. Used for staff training, it accelerates training and makes it more effective, increasing productivity and safety.
In addition, dealers can increase sales by offering a pivotal service: that of allowing customers to customize their dream car and test it safely. Virtual Reality can also reduce time-to-market for self-driving cars, speeding up tests on safety systems.
All of this testifies how technological advances are a real revolution for the automotive industry. Massive investments in technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and IoT are projecting the big brands of the automotive sector in a future that cannot be postponed.