Ford Designers Are Using VR To Inspect Vehicles From Home While Under Lockdown

Ford Motors switches to remote collaboration amid shelter-in-place orders.

The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many organizations, both big and small, to rethink the ways in which their teams and employees can continue to communicate and collaborate while under lockdown. With many employees under strict shelter-in-place orders, having an effective remote co-working solution has become absolutely essential for businesses hoping to weather this ongoing storm.

For U.S. automaker Ford Motor Company, collaboration among team members is essential, which is why the company has begun using VR technology to connect its designers inside virtual studios where they can collaborate on automobile designs remotely.

This isn’t the companies first foray into VR technology. The company has been using VR to conduct virtual vehicle inspections for some time. Team members would gather together, usually in the same location, and don HTC Vive headsets to view detailed 3D car models in a variety of lighting scenarios. There they could view their designs in more detail, allowing them to identify flaws and make corrections before moving on to clay models.

Ford team members are still conducting these VR meetings, only instead of standing in the same room, each member is connecting remotely from their own home. This allows designers to continue on with their projects as a team while maintaining safe social distances. In the gif provided by Car and Driver, you can see vice president of design Moray Callum, global design director Todd Willing, global design director, cars and crossover lead Joel Piaskowski, and director of design engineering and technical operations Ian McLaughlin conducting one of these remote VR meetings.

Using an HTC Vive headset, team member are able to teleport around the 3D model, lean in for a closer look, and take notes on their observations. Each user is represented as a futuristic robot, allowing them to interact more naturally with one another than they could via a standard screen.

“We love big screens but you can’t get them big enough to show a full-size vehicle,” said Ford digital design manager Michael Smith while speaking to Car and Driver. “Whereas, if you put in a VR headset you can experience that vehicle in full scale. We’re getting there and we’re close to what would be considered a streaming experience. That one is still kind of in the testing phase.”

In the future, the company hopes to expand upon its VR collaboration platform, including the ability to make changes to 3D models in real-time.

Image Credit: Ford

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Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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