Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Ford's Virtual Reality Lab Helps Engineers

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the is-this-real? dept.

Transportation 49

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Facebook bought OculusVR and the world tilted a little on its axis. But good old Ford has been using VR all along without much fanfare. VR tech effectively gives Ford engineers X-ray vision, so they can — virtually — see through a vehicle's structure, which helps to design mechanical hardware, and spot issues with designs that might interfere with vehicle 'hard points.' Ford's engineers also use VR headsets to check out exterior and interior designs of cars that don't exist in the physical world — at least not yet. Team members walk around virtual cars to preview designs, or "get in" to check if interior layouts will work in the real world."

cancel ×

49 comments

Article link (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615025)

Linking to the beta version of the article, how very sneaky.

You heartless bastard.

Re:Article link (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615409)

Yeah. Fuck beta.

All this.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615029)

And yet you still need to remove motor mounts, rotate the engine forward, and take off a wheel to remove sparkplugs.

Re:All this.... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46615083)

At least all under-hood service procedures don't start with 'remove front bumper' like new beetles.

Re:All this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615455)

No, but some of their trucks start with 'remove engine to replace spark plugs'.

Re:All this.... (3, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46615211)

Well, if you just had X-ray vision and trans-substantial tools like the Authorized Ford Dealerships it wouldn't be such an issue.

You've gotta admit, when it comes to proprietary lock in it's pretty damned effective to have "raise the body 3 feet" be step one in the official repair manual.

Re:All this.... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46615221)

It's a conspiracy with car repair shops! What if these procedures were so simple that people could do them at home? We just can't have that.

Re:All this.... (1)

causality (777677) | about 4 months ago | (#46615521)

It's a conspiracy with car repair shops! What if these procedures were so simple that people could do them at home? We just can't have that.

Consider that the Joe Sixpacks of automobiles tend to get their cars serviced at the same branded dealerships from which the car was purchased, and this becomes simple two-party collusion between the dealership owner and the car company allowing them to use the logos.

Re:All this.... (3, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46615559)

Removing/loosening motor mounts, putting the car into gear and pushing it forward/backward to shift the engine a cm or so and gain clearance is SOP for working on transverse engine, front wheel drives. You can do it in your driveway.

Re:All this.... (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 4 months ago | (#46616929)

It would be nice if Ford decided that engine mounts lasting more than 30,000 miles should be SOP too. I'm looking at you, Ford/Mazda passenger side mount that was too loose when it was new and now has cracked and burped hydraulic fluid all over everything near it ...

This is cool (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#46615061)

Car manufacturers have always been great innovators in technology. Comments about the actual products they make notwithstanding...

http://design.osu.edu/carlson/... [osu.edu]

Aerospace/Maritime Design Too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615065)

Yeah? So? We do too but the difference is, the existing equipment that industry uses costs $5,000-$50,000 per "headset" and it's bulky and has high latency but the Oculus Rift is cheaper, more responsive, has higher motion fidelity and provides a lot more bang for one's buck.

Re:Aerospace/Maritime Design Too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615073)

Tell us, how does Zuckerberg's pecker taste ?

Because it is clear you have tasted it.

Re:Aerospace/Maritime Design Too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615093)

I've been saying it before Facebook bought them, a change in owner doesn't somehow magically alter the past and adjust the current specifications as they currently stand.

So what? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 4 months ago | (#46615079)

Nobody ever said VR was anything new or something, its just new in the consumer field. I had an internship years ago building stuff based on a framework by Mercedes (iirc) which had awesome vr capabilities and could essentially drive you anything from a 3d-monitor to a cave-installation with back-projections on every wall

Re:So what? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 months ago | (#46615425)

New in the consumer field? I guess you weren't around in the 90s. I remember people playing Descent with consumer VR helmets back then. Boy was that nausea inducing.

VR is one of those fads that comes and goes away every 20 years.

Re:So what? (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 months ago | (#46615437)

Then Nintendo did the Virtual Boy and the segment imploded.

Re:So what? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 4 months ago | (#46616209)

Ack, that should have gone in quotation marks. I also remember my 1st encounter with "consumer-grade" stereo glasses back in the 90s where there was an exhibition and you could "bungee-jump" from some tower (essentially a vr-headset - from sony iirc - and you jumped from a small podest into a bungee gear ... pretty impressive effect though, at least for my 10 year old self ;)).

Re:So what? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 4 months ago | (#46616227)

Apart from my other post: I think what most people are excited about is not so much the stereo vision, but that head-tracking can finally packed into the same unit with reasonable delays. Some years ago you still had to do crappy ir-cam-setups with dorky blips on your glasses for that and needed a small cluster for calculation (ok, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point)

This is why .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615597)

Marketing hype.

See ALL of Silicon Valley these days is nothing but marketing hype to sell their advertising systems (tm). Websites, apps, devices, etc ... are are nothing but to get advertising in front of your eyeballs.

So what do they do? Take old technology, get it made cheap overseas, and then sell it you - and you are buying nothing but an advertising platform.

A perfect example: I see these rubes wanting Google glass and exclaiming in their pedantic way "there's NO advertising on it!!" - none NOW, dumbass. There WILL BE, dumbass. That is what Google exists for - to put advertising in front of our eyes.

Same goes for Yahoo!.

Silicon Valley started this "get the eyeballs and the revenue will follow" attitude and now they are struggling to make it work - well, Facebook has done a great job in pimping their users' data - Kudos!! But the rest of them? Their exit strategy is to sell out to some big public corp who NEEDS to buy SOMETHING - ANYTHING - to bump up their stock price. Yahoo!'s last purchase - crap - but it did wonders for their CEO. Think about it techies - it's not rocket science !

Just an AC, MBA's opinion here.

Yeah,, whatever -we MBAs suck but _I_ can see through the bullshit while you dorks go gaga over shitty technology (like Google Glass) when in fact it's just another ruse to pick your pocket with a mediocre product.

Google Glass should be FREE! Period!! New tech my ass! If the US government declassified some of their tech and allowed it to be mass produced, it'd blow your little basement dwelling mind - and you think Google Glass is something....dorks.

Frame rate (0)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 months ago | (#46615089)

The rendering frame rate of their system leaves a lot to be desired. The VR hardware looks good for their needs and usage, but that frame rate totally kills the immersion. That's inexcusable in this day and age - people have better gaming rigs than that. My guess is they have a very poorly optimized modeling system that has to pull data from whatever CAD systems they use.

Re:Frame rate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615195)

Keep in mind it's 2 years old now and the systems they interface with are highly proprietary, as is the VR system itself, sometimes you just have to roll with what you have. Speaking from experience having dealt with these crappy systems before.

Re:Frame rate (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#46615365)

solidworks is proprietary?

Re:Frame rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46619037)

Um, yes?

Re:Frame rate (2)

AndOne (815855) | about 4 months ago | (#46615215)

The rendering frame rate of their system leaves a lot to be desired. The VR hardware looks good for their needs and usage, but that frame rate totally kills the immersion. That's inexcusable in this day and age - people have better gaming rigs than that. My guess is they have a very poorly optimized modeling system that has to pull data from whatever CAD systems they use.

1) The framerate doesn't need to be optimized as they're not going for immersion, but rather the ability to look things over from novel angles in a semi natural way. In fact immersion might run counter to their goals in this situation.

2) The car models are probably extremely detailed and overmeshed even to guarantee that the model has high physical fidelity. A large amount of the performance in games that is lost in CAD is due to geometry bandwidth.

3) Also X-Ray mode implies some pretty interesting alpha blending type effects so they're probably losing most of their Z-Culling and line drawing also isn't as optimized in graphics hardware as most people don't use it. It's actually a selling point on several CAD workstation graphics cards that they accelerate line drawing.

4) The motion capture system tracking their hands and heads also probably introduces some level of system latency.

Re:Frame rate (2)

jeti (105266) | about 4 months ago | (#46615587)

But a low framerate contributes to simulator sickness. It's no wonder the engineers in the video are careful to move their heads slowly.

Re:Frame rate (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 4 months ago | (#46617955)

In the stuff I'm working on, lower resolution images are used for motion and then a high resolution image sent when the camera is still, but I work in a lower latency area meant for mobile devices. Some of my coworkers work on stuff like this.

No official Minecraft = world tilting on its axis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615231)

Hypberbole much? So one developer got a little grumpy and decided not to start a project that hadn't even been confirmed in the first place, when third party options to run his game on Oculus already exist and work well. Nothing to see here. Move on.

What's potentially more "axis-tilting" is Oculus getting Michael Abrash, which is probably a very good thing for them.

Disclaimer: I don't own an Oculus. I don't particularly like Facebook and I'm not defending them. I also don't like hyperbole.

Re:No official Minecraft = world tilting on its ax (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 months ago | (#46615483)

Ah. Facebook bought something they have no idea how to monetize just because they want to compete with Google. However immersive VR is not something you can use daily. They are going to find their user base rather thin indeed.

This is good for gaming and certain niche applications where people are willing to enter a dedicated space and lose their peripheral vision.

newsworthy? or just a Ford shill hopping on (2)

Kogun (170504) | about 4 months ago | (#46615249)

the FB/Oculus Rift news?

"But good old Ford has been using VR all along without much fanfare".

Exactly.

Not to be too cynical but (1)

hessian (467078) | about 4 months ago | (#46615415)

What on a practical level is this helping?

They designed the VW bug without this kind of technology.

Something tells me that car quality has more to do with design choices and corner cutting, materials and manufacture, than visualization.

Or am I just a grandpa who should GTFO of technology altogether? Off my lawn...

Re:Not to be too cynical but (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#46615563)

You're not cynical, you're just lazy. Read the article and it explains how it's helpful.

Re:Not to be too cynical but (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46615579)

Even worse; they likely designed the new 'bug' with similar technology.

Re:Not to be too cynical but (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46615595)

The VW bug was not designed by "they" It was designed by the Porsche company to meet political demands by Adolf Hitler, for a very simple German made car, costing less than 100 marks and with better than 40 mpg fuel consumption, capable of fitting a small family. It also incorporated previous design work by Ferdinand Porsche, which is why parts for Porsches and for VW Beetles were cross-compatible for so long.

The design is fascinating for its _simplicity_. It's the simplicity found in designs by a master craftsman. The presence of the engine in the rear, for example, meant a much smaller and more compact transmission without the lengthy drive shaft of contemporary front engine, rear drive wheel designs. That meant less high quality, high strength, high durability steel was needed in the manufacture, which helped keep prices down. The shape of the car worked both aerodynamically, to help gas mileage, but mechanically, with shapes that were forgiving of minor manufacturing perfections, and with placementn of connectors that made the vehicle easy to repair, easy to adjust for slightly miscut or miscast components, and easy to repair.

If you ever had the opportunity to work with one, you'd have noticed similar quality in the engine. It was _easy_ to remove if needed, and very intelligent design went into the layout so that tools could reach mounting screw or bolts and the various adjustment points for the carburetor. Its major flaw was a tendency to burn oil (which is not surprising for an engine made so inexpensively, high quality seals and tight tolerance mechanical parts cost _money_). They also had a tendency for the bottom of the car to become dangerously corroded by road salt. The broad use of road salt was nowhere near as common when these cars were designed, and would have been quite expensive to protect against. The old Beetles were so light that it was often possible to simply _lift_ or push them out of trouble when they got stuck in snow or mud: they actually floated for a while if they ever landed in water. Lifting them out of trable happened repeatedly when I was much younger and snow plows buried my old car.

Re:Not to be too cynical but (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 months ago | (#46616451)

So what you're saying is that when you get real engineers and designers to identify goals and work together, you get an efficient design without the need for all the VR crap. Instead, we hire whomever got a 4.0 but can't work a socket wrench and serve multiple masters so get a clusterfuck that achieves none of the goals and is so interdependent that it's nearly impossible to fix should anything go wrong.

Progress!

Re:Not to be too cynical but (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46617295)

> So what you're saying is that when you get real engineers and designers to identify goals and work together

Not really. I'm saying that when you have a _master_ engineer in charge of design, with well specified goals, you can get a master work. Modern cars are profoundly more complex. From their automatic transmission, to their non-skid brakes, to their emission reduction systems, to the enhanced safety standards with airbags, to their complex radio and GPS and telephone docking systems, they've become far more complex. It's not fair to compare them to the old VW Beetle, which was mechanically much, much simpler.

With the complex electrical and mechanical layouts of modern cars, it can be _invaluable_ to do a designed model and ensure that all the angles to detach and replace components can actually be reached without disassembling the entire car. That's difficult to model when designing the engine without an actual shell around it, or before you've cast most of the parts.

Re:Not to be too cynical but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46619397)

Those modern cars' real function is to create jobs in a modern society. The car still basically is a motorized chair. You get in, you sit down, you press some pedals and a motor drives you around. Instead of the leisure society with 50% unemployment and a 20 hour work week with the same lifestyle, we now have "jobs" like "GPS engineer for cars".

Re:Not to be too cynical but (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | about 4 months ago | (#46618795)

The old Beetles were so light that it was often possible to simply _lift_ or push them out of trouble when they got stuck in snow or mud: they actually floated for a while if they ever landed in water. Lifting them out of trable happened repeatedly when I was much younger and snow plows buried my old car.

I recall many years ago in high school a great prank. An occasional supply teacher we didn't much like drove a Beetle. One day six of us lifted it from the parking lot and placed it between two trees, one touching each bumper. I never learned how he got it out.

Wish they had used this for my truck (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 4 months ago | (#46615533)

I wish they had used this on my truck which has a rusted out tranny line blocked by the exhaust and supported by a stupid metal bracket that can only be accessed by removing the oil filter.

Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615605)

This headset cost how much like $300? No. Maybe $400??
Oh yeah nice raytracing too. Quite the framerate as well.
This lab locked technology sure have brought a lot of innovations to gamers.

Catia (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 4 months ago | (#46615875)

...and everybody else just use Catia...

Oh, well, what the hell.

Now tell me how this is evil... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 months ago | (#46615975)

I have noticed that the official narrative here at slashdot continues to be "if the American car companies are doing something, it is 1000% TEH EVIL, but if the same thing is done instead by an Asian car company, it must be embraced as the greatest thing since air".

So go ahead, tell me how this is going to lead to the demise of civilization as we know it or perhaps even the end of mankind as a whole. Extra points if you can relate this to the Ford Pinto, the Diesel engines used by the big three in the late 70s / early 80s, or the low build quality of every Buick made in the 90s. If you can include all of those and tell us how Lee Iacoca is satan incarnate you win the internet.

Ford's no longer an American car company. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 4 months ago | (#46617197)

Ford stopped being an American car company about when Mulally decided to eviscerate every single American car platform from the lineup, replace them with Eurotrash, and then put the abomination of Eco-Boost on every engine (including the Mustang).

General Motors is less so, but can still be considered American for what has been left alone. However, that isn't much given the amount of captive imports(Cruze, Sonic) and entirely converted divisions(e.g. the Opel^W Buick division).

About the only car company left that has mainly stayed American in the face of international pressure is Chrysler. Fiat has wisely kept them American without falling to environmentalist pressure to go Eurotrash.

If you're wondering, I've driven/owned mostly from those three. Not interested in something that sounds and operates like an oversized lawn mower.

Re:Ford's no longer an American car company. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 months ago | (#46618313)

Ford stopped being an American car company about when Mulally decided to eviscerate every single American car platform from the lineup, replace them with Eurotrash

First of all, most of those decisions were made before Mulally arrived at Ford (consider the Focus especially but the Fiesta and Fusion arguably go under that umbrella just as much). Second, those cars are better for driving, handling, and fuel economy than the mid size and smaller models that Ford had before then.

I will concede, though, that they really should have kept the Crown Vic (and Grand Marquis / Town Car) platform going longer. They really haven't done a very good job of offering alternatives for fleet vehicles. An excellent example of this is that the next NYC taxi is a Nissan something-or-other after having been the Crown Vic for decades.

and then put the abomination of Eco-Boost on every engine (including the Mustang).

I'm interested in knowing what you dislike so much about the ecoboost engine. I'm rather fond of it myself, I know someone with an F150 with the ecoboost and it does quite well. Person in question has a very heavy foot, and hence gets typical truck MPG on it, but more importantly it accelerates far better than any other V6 out there, and better than many V8s as well. It also handles hauling in the bed and pulling 18 foot boats with no problem and it runs on regular gas.

If you want to bash the big three for lack of "American" character then I would say you need to go back to at least the early-mid 80s by which time all three of them had essentially converted all their cars to FWD and unibody.

About the only car company left that has mainly stayed American in the face of international pressure is Chrysler.

I will give them credit for having the largest number of non-truck RWD vehicles on the market, although all their RWD vehicles share the same platform so one could call that cheating on that metric.

Even worse though the Dodge Challenger needs to lose about 800 pounds to compete with the car it wants to be (Ford Mustang). That might be the only reason to get a Camaro; it only needs to lose about 400 pounds to make Mustang weight (although the Camaro has atrocious sight lines out the back and has less power than the Mustang).

Fiat has wisely kept them American without falling to environmentalist pressure to go Eurotrash.

I'm not sure we can say that Fiat has been at the reigns long enough to be sure of that. Let's check back in another couple years (on a different site by then as slashdot won't last that long).

Not interested in something that sounds and operates like an oversized lawn mower.

On that I agree with you 100%. Not that it matters as many Hondas (in particular) are not made for guys as tall as I am.

I don't know why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46615995)

...but I'm really annoyed that the link to the Minecraft story is for beta /.

All this technology (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 4 months ago | (#46617021)

You would think that with all this brainpower and technology at their disposal, Ford would have picked a partner other than Microsoft for their in car entertainment/control package (SYNC).

Re:All this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46700409)

You aren't capable of thought. Your 1 line fart replies evidence it.

Re:All this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46701299)

They might think. You can't. It's dangerous for you. You might injure yourself trying.

Ford? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46619117)

You mean that company that has been producing the world's shittiest cars for the last 30 years?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...