BMW employs high-tech augmented reality

By JAY WONG | 19 September 2020

MUNICH: BMW Group is using a new augmented reality (AR) application in vehicle concept and prototype engineering to help cut design time by as much as a year.

The design factor ranges from individual vehicle sections through to complex production stages.

The AR goggles allow real geometries – on the body of a vehicle, for instance, to be overlaid with true-to-scale holographic 3D models.

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This allows for a range of concept variants and assembly processes for future series vehicles can be assessed flexibly and cost-efficiently.

Another major advantage is that utilising AR will help to save the company time and money when integrating new vehicles into the production line.

Vehicles and their components are visualised on a platform linked to the BMW Group’s product data management system.

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CAD files of components are drag-and-dropped from the web-based database to the AR goggles, which the specialists can then use to reproduce the data in 3D and their original size in a realistic environment.

The AR application is controlled by hand, allowing direct interaction with virtual components.

With the AR application, a simple hand movement is enough to modify not only the size but also the position and angle of components.

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In addition, cross-sections can be created to provide a view of the vehicle’s inner structures.

Another advantage is collaborative working where people at different locations around the world can now employ multi-user mode to team up and review designs and concepts together and identify any errors.

As part of this project, the German carmaker is working with a Munich-based start-up and a research organisation.

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Work on developing and piloting the first augmented reality application commenced within a year at the BMW Group’s Vehicle Pilot Plant in Munich.

Research and methodology development focuses on cloud-based visualisations and smart object recognition.

The BMW Group’s Pilot Plant is located in the Research & Innovation Centre in Munich, with three further associated facilities to the north of the city, in Hallbergmoos, Oberschleissheim and Garching.

With a total area of 100,000m2, it is home to 850 associates, who work on up to six vehicle projects simultaneously.

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Like the series plants, the Pilot Plant can assemble both electrically and combustion-powered prototypes.

As the interface between development and production, it allows not only the product but also the series assembly processes to be refined to maturity, ready for transfer to regular plants where they are used in series production.

The Pilot Plant comprises a body shop as well as assembly, prototype and concept car construction units, and the Additive Manufacturing Centre, a centre of excellence for 3D printing.

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