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Virtual Reality and Optical Simulations can Revolutionize the Automotive Industry

Virtual reality (VR) isn’t just about reliving your Matrix fantasies — VR is also having profound effects on business.

Automotive engineers are play testing their latest prototypes in a virtual reality.

Take the automotive industry. It costs a lot to produce physical prototypes as complex as a car. As an alternative, engineers can prototype, iterate and optimize faster — and on a tighter budget — when these are done in a virtual reality environment.

Testing these digital cars is also faster and safer in a digital landscape. When a prototype catastrophically fails in a digital world it isn’t a big deal. However, if this happens in the real world, it puts people at risk and becomes headline news.

Physical prototypes are also less prevalent because regulatory organizations are accepting virtual testing that ensures products meet standards. With simulation, a design could theoretically meet industry standards before it even touches an assembly line.

How Virtual Reality Ensures Products Meet Industry Standards

Headlights are a great example of a car component that could be shown to meet industry standards using virtual reality.

Simulation results of the IIHS headlight safety tests in a virtual reality setting

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) measures the reach of a vehicle’s headlights as the car travels along a straight line and a curve. It then compares these results to a perfect headlighting system.

Virtual reality and optical simulations can be used to model how a prototype will perform if it were used in the real world. The optical simulations help engineers design and compute how much their headlight designs would light up the roadway. The engineers can then use virtual reality software to display these results in a digital mockup of the car.

Engineers can use this data to optimize their headlight systems, while the IIHS can use this data to ensure the product meets the industry standards.

Similar techniques could also be used to optimize and regulate head-up displays (HUD), mirror placements and even the sensor systems of autonomous cars.

Software like ANSYS SPEOS can also create a photorealistic image of a car. Designers can use these images to verify that their interior color and material choices look good regardless of the lighting. 

After all, you don’t want to notice that your color choices clash when the dyes and leather patterns arrive. You want to know before the design is set in stone.

To learn how simulations and virtual experiences can help engineers meet regulations and get their cars to market faster, check out ANSYS optical simulation software like ANSYS VRXPERIENCE.