Could virtual-reality testing, with parts scattered around the country, be the future?
HAVING all your data stored in “the cloud” is becoming more and more the norm, as remote working starts to offer a convenient option.
This also allows you to work across multiple locations, meaning getting the brightest minds together for work projects is easier than ever. No longer do you have to organise people to one location at the same time, which can be pricey, or a logistical nightmare.
For car development, though, there remains the problem of having a working prototype in one location. Sure, manufacturers have been using computer simulations to test concepts without spending thousands on fullsize prototypes for years. But can you carry out virtual-reality testing with parts scattered around the country?
Experts in the industry believe so, and have set up a three-year project – entitled the Virtually Connected Hybrid Vehicle (VCHV) – to look into the feasibility of testing different aspects of a hybrid engine in a real-time, virtual environment.
Eight PHD engineers around the UK – based everywhere from Bath and Loughborough to Newcastle and Warwick – will develop six different hybrid subsystems that will be tested together, while physically remaining on test rigs at their host universities.
It’s futuristic work, but for the industry it’s highly valuable and cost-effective. It’s estimated only five per cent of powertrain testing is done virtually, but by combining expertise from around the country, it could shorten timescales of developing products by up to 12 months.
For car buyers, that means cheaper, better cars hitting the market sooner – which can only be a good thing.