Virtual Reality: From Vehicle Concept to Production

At Magna’s Virtual Reality Center in Graz, Austria, engineers wearing VR goggles are revolutionizing the way cars are designed, developed and manufactured.

“We’re bringing new technology to real product development,” said Severin Stadler, head of R&D virtual development methods and digital factory for Magna Steyr. “Magna is open to this in order to become more flexible, efficient and innovative.”

Once the domain of video games and films, 3D tools – including augmented reality and mixed reality headsets – are accelerating vehicle engineering and helping Magna’s global teams reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.

Because the new technology allows multiple people to view the same virtual 3D models at once, an engineer in China can see what changes and remarks an engineer in Graz is making in real time.

People are liking the new technology and seeing the benefits.

Darren Charbonneau, director of operations, Magna Mechatronics America

This allows the teams to collaborate, share and experience ideas together, while gaining freedom and efficiency in how vehicles are developed.

The new tools have applications in virtual crash tests and ergonomics studies, as well, and aid in the factory planning process by allowing virtual walk-throughs before the start of production.

In addition to the Magna plant in Graz, wearable technology is previewing the future of smart factories at a Magna Mechatronics division in Canada.

Virtual-reality headsets are helping the team at Magna’s Dortec Industries boost efficiency and productivity.

“An operator can train using a VR headset to get the hand motions down, and we can do virtual benchmarking by walking a plant in a virtual space by using a headset.” explained Darren Charbonneau, director of operations for Magna Mechatronics Americas.

In addition to using VR headsets, workers at the facility also use tablets and smart watches, all elements of a new partnership with Samsung.

The bottom line, says Charbonneau: “People are liking the new technology and seeing the benefits.”

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