Ford Now Using Holograms to Design Cars

Joanna Estrada
September 21, 2017

As part of the collaboration, Ford will be exploring the use and testing of Microsoft HoloLens, mainly as part of the auto marker's push to embrace the digital transformation and build the better vehicle of tomorrow.

"With HoloLens, we can instantly flip through virtual representations to decide which direction they should go", says Michael Smith, Ford design manager.

The vehicle giant has been using the headset to help its designers visualize their concepts and ideas, letting them see changes that would once have required costly clay model reworks to be instantly laid over existing real-world prototypes.

According to Ford, it's helped designers and engineers cut testing times for new designs from weeks and months to minutes and hours.

Moray Callum, vice president, Design at Ford put this into perspective, calling HoloLens a "powerful tool". They were also able to use legacy tools such as clay models less often, allowing them to create and iterate more freely and quickly.

Others vehicle makers testing Microsoft's HoloLens for design and engineering include Volvo and Volkswagen, while lift maker ThyssenKrupp is using it for repairs, and NASA has been testing it for use on ISS, and to select potential sites on Mars to build bases. This will give its industrial designers and engineers the ability to visualize their concepts before building a physical clay model, which is a costly process, especially when changes need to be made.

Ford says that with the Hololens its designers can change vehicle design elements in mixed reality in seconds as opposed to having to resculpt the cars in clay.

Ford's is an appealing story for Microsoft because it demonstrates how a business can integrate its augmented-reality tech into existing business processes. HoloLens will be combined with clay models, allowing designers to quickly iterate and experiment in a virtual environment before committing any changes to the physical clay model.

Microsoft's next-generation Holographic Processing Unit, now in development, will add a coprocessor for implementing deep-neural networks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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