Jaguar and Land Rover, those two bastions of British engineering brilliance, has been showcasing some stunning new technology at the British Science Festival in Birmingham this week.
The Tata-owned brands have developed a £2.5 million ‘virtual garage’ – widely recognised as the most advanced virtual reality facility of any car company in the world.
Being huge gadgets geeks, we wanted to find out a bit more about the facility, and the level of equipment is astonishing.
There’s eight latest generation Sony 4K digital camera projectors offering four times the resolution of Ultra HD TV as well as 22 Sun Microsystems advanced PCs to cope with the futuristic software.
Both Land Rover and Jaguar are no strangers to being industry leaders in designing new technology and this is evident again with a completely bespoke touch screen interface to control the system.
So what is it used for? For a start, it can create accurate 3D diagrams of any new vehicle – so expect the new Land Rover Evoque and Jaguar XF facelift to have been given the virtual reality treatment.
It can check dimensions, performance and robustness by putting vehicles through a range of ‘virtual tests’ and it can even mimic the assembly process to make it more accurate and efficient.
But Jaguar Land Rover is not stopping there, as Andy Richardson, who has the fantastic job title of Manager of the Simulation Group at Jaguar Land Rover, explains:
"We also want to create a virtual factory so that the assembly process can be fully assessed for efficiency, ergonomics and warranty issues. We will be adding a virtual driving simulation, including human machine interface capability and the ability to produce HD realistic photography and film to support launch and marketing."
"And perhaps our ultimate goal is to see the introduction of a modelling process that links and manages all component and sub-assembly relationships in a virtual space. This will allow us to create a 3-D virtual vehicle in a virtual study environment that is actually "morphable" on screen."
This, he says will improve reliability and robustness of its cars as well as cut down on assembly time.
So how will customers benefit? Well, apart from increased reliability, Jaguar Land Rover will use augmented reality to test and choose the best trim levels possible and show how various features can be added to the models.
Perhaps we’ll even see ‘design guru’ Victoria Beckham having a go…
If you’ve stuck with us this far through the technical (some would say geeky) aspects of this exciting technology, it may be a good time to remind you of our favourite ever Land Rover innovation.
Apparently, after delivering the first generation Range Rover to be tested at Buckingham Palace, Land Rover were asked to add a cover for the tool kit because of concerns the Queen’s corgi’s could get hurt. It has remained to this day.
You learn something new every day eh?