BMW harnesses augmented reality for process development

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The BMW Group is using a new augmented reality (AR) application in its vehicle concept and prototype engineering departments, which it claims is speeding up the development process by as much as 12 months.

The use of AR goggles allows real geometries – on a vehicle body, for instance – to be overlaid with true-to-scale holographic 3D models, so a range of concept variants and assembly processes for future series vehicles can be assessed flexibly and cost-efficiently.

Michael Schneider, head of Complete Vehicle at the Pilot Plant, explained, “The AR goggles and CAD data allow us to find out much more quickly whether the production worker will be able to fit the component properly later on, in series production. That way, we need far fewer test setups.”

Christoph Leibetseder, head of Digitalization, Prototyping and Measurement Technologies at the BMW’s Pilot Plant, added, “Another key advantage is that it saves us time and money when we integrate new vehicles into production.”

BMW’s Pilot Plant, where the technology is being deployed, is located at its 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 100,000m, it houses an 850-strong workforce, which works on up to six vehicle projects simultaneously.

Like the company’s series plants, the Pilot Plant can assemble both electrically and combustion-powered prototypes. As an interface between development and production, the plant 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 bodyshop as well as assembly, prototype and concept car construction units, and the Additive Manufacturing Centre, a center of excellence for 3D printing.

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