ReaBits Blog

Virtual trips by BMW

In recent decades, the automotive industry has been actively implementing new technologies in the production and operation of vehicles. At the end of the twentieth century we saw the emergence of on-board computers in supercars, and now models in the mid-market are equipped with them. Parktronics, navigators, and even infrared cameras for night riding have become customary. In the automobile manufacture field, widespread robotized conveyors and computer modeling are widespread in most companies. And BMW announced the use of a new approach to testing of its new models. Now the Bavarian automaker is using virtual reality goggles for it.

HTC Vive helmet was selected for a comprehensive road test. With their help, the BMW experts will be able to take a virtual trip by car, to identify a vision limitation for a driver and passengers, the possibility of the car in different weather and road conditions, dashboard ergonomics, etc. The company is planning to create maximally qualitative simulation for the operator, including the use of sound.

Much attention is paid to the selection of other equipment. The computing power of the simulator will be provided by game computers of the latest generation with water cooling. Photorealism of test trips will be provided by Unreal Engin 4, the latest version of the Epic Games engine. The engine will drive the simulation up to 90 frames per second, which is going to be supported by the latest tools for tracking actions of the HTC Vive Lighthouse virtual reality helmet user. Based on the figures obtained, all the user’s movements will be tracked every few milliseconds, which will give a very realistic effect.

Of course, the virtual simulator testing will not substitute real trips around the city, but BMW does not set such goal. This system is intended for those models that are in the process of developing and designing. Earlier, before commissioning the new car, the manufacturers had to work out a detailed scheme of a future car, create expensive models, prototypes, carry out tests, which almost inevitably identified design vulnerabilities and ran almost the whole process for a new cycle. And this system should significantly reduce costs at the design stage and, in theory, decrease the cost of new Bavarian cars.