While vehicle production has restarted at Ford facilities across Europe and North America, vehicle development has been kept on track during the COVID-19 crisis through the use of virtual reality.
During the lockdown, Ford designers collaborated on new vehicles in a virtual design studio. Using VR headsets, they worked alongside each other in a virtual world to review computer aided design-generated models of vehicles in development, as clay modelling wasn’t possible.
The team also worked on early sketches of the ultimate virtual racing car designed for the Team Fordzilla P1 Project. The captains of Ford’s five Fordzilla esports teams from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and their communities, have been closely involved in co-creating this racing car. An initial series of eight polls received more than 220,000 votes to help shape the design package of this unique vehicle, with the design scheduled for completion in mid-June.
“Collaboration is integral to design. We need to be able to try things, bounce ideas around and get feedback from others. Virtual reality enables us to do just that while staying at home, but we never imagined we would employ it the way we have and that it would make us see vehicle design in a new way,” said Amko Leenarts, director, Design, Ford of Europe.
Key members of Ford’s global design leadership team, including Leenarts, will give a demonstration of this virtual design studio on 21 May, at 16:00 CET during a special livestream event hosted on the Car Design News website.
During the livestream, the designers, from Europe, the US and Australia, will answer questions, discuss how COVID-19 might influence the future of design and conduct the first review of the Team Fordzilla P1 Project.
Ford is also using virtual reality for rendering vehicle interiors. 360° sketching is a tool that enables designers to imagine and share drawings that can immediately be experienced from the driver’s point of view, or from anywhere inside the car, in 3D or in virtual reality.
As the Ford design teams gradually return to the actual design studio, virtual reality will continue to be used for global collaborations and to complement the clay modelling process.