Friday, June 7, 2013

New Virtual Reality Programme Can Influence Multimodal Freight Designs

Jaguar Land Rover Partnerships Aim at Putting UK in the Forefront of Conceptual Vehicle Production
Shipping News Feature

UK – Jaguar Land Rover and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), along with four of the UK’s leading universities, have announced a £10 million virtual engineering research programme which will aim to improve the quality and capabilities of simulation, using sights, sounds and even smells to make virtual simulation more realistic. Engineering projects such as this could have a major impact on the design of future multimodal freight options with virtual designs being used as a test bed for innovative behaviour in fields ranging from road haulage vehicle design to energy saving concepts in sea and air.

The £10 million five year collaboration between Jaguar Land Rover and the country’s leading academics will develop the capability of the virtual simulation industry in the UK and will give manufacturers access to new, world-class simulation tools and processes. This is the first phase of a 20 year strategic project that could put the UK at the leading edge of virtual simulation globally. Bob Joyce, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director, said:

“While we already utilise a wide range of sophisticated virtual engineering tools and processes to design, engineer and test our new vehicles, we are keen to enhance the future capability of virtual simulation and tailor them for automotive product development. We want to make advances in the simulated driver and passenger experience, including more realistic imagery, sounds and smells. These projects will help us analyse increasingly complex designs at whole vehicle, system and component levels, as well as enhancing the high performance computers that industry will use in the future to mine increasing amounts of more complex data.

"Jaguar Land Rover believes the UK needs to be globally competitive in industrial innovation. Collaboration between Jaguar Land Rover and academia to develop new automotive applications will give the UK an opportunity to take a lead in virtual simulation technology.”

Giving engineers a more realistic perception of what a design might achieve, as well as giving them access to more powerful computers, will mean even more engineering can be virtual. This will also help manufacturers to deliver more complex new vehicle programmes more quickly as well as save costs in product development by reducing the reliance on physical prototypes and have environmental benefits by limiting the number of prototypes that need to be driven and tested in the real world. Announcing the funding during a visit to Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, MP, said:

“With world-class universities and cutting edge companies like Jaguar Land Rover, the UK is well placed to be at the forefront of driving innovation and developing new technology. This investment will support the Government’s industrial strategy by boosting the UK’s manufacturing capability and helping to keep us globally competitive.”

The projects form part of the ‘Programme for Simulation Innovation’ (PSI), a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Loughborough University, University of Leeds, University of Cambridge and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. The PSI project is funded by Jaguar Land Rover (£4 million), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (£4 million) and the partner Universities (£2 million) and is split into two phases that will run over the next five years. The five projects announced today form the first phase and will make up 80% of the programme.

The projects include an ‘analysis of the vehicle as a complex system’ at the universities of Loughborough and Leeds, which develops methods to enable a comprehensive analysis of the vehicle interface complexity at vehicle to system and component levels; the ‘multi-physics and multi-functional simulation’ project (Loughborough) will aim to increase the breadth and depth of simulation methods to cover the entire set of functions and dynamics of the whole vehicle; the ‘driving simulation’ programme (Leeds) will deliver a realistic driving and passenger experience in a fully digitally defined environment to provide feedback through the vehicle design process.

At the University of Cambridge, the ‘high performance computing and simulation knowledge mining and abstraction’ project will enable research to address the challenges of design, integration and coherence of the HPC platform through hardware, software and modelling methods and to support requirements of processing large data sets in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics and database systems; and at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, the ‘visualisation and virtual experience’ enables research to develop and apply improved visualisation techniques and multi-sensory experience, hardware and software to support the effectiveness of multi-discipline analysis and simulation, and effective, objective decision making.. EPSRC’s Chief Executive Professor David Delpy said:

“This partnership shows how the research community can work hand in hand with industry to push boundaries in science and engineering. EPSRC’s role, as a sponsor of innovative research, has been to work with Jaguar Land Rover to define the longer term research needs of the industry, issue a call for proposals and facilitate robust peer review.”

Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, including the XJ and Evoque models have already incorporated designs produced by the existing virtual reality engineering and design studio which was installed in 2008 with the car maker stating this resulted in savings in excess of £8 million. To read more about the history of how the company has utilised the technology take a look at the Automotive Design Council UK site or view a video from the company HERE.

Photo: The Jaguar Land Rover virtual reality test bed in action.