How Virtual Reality Tech is Changing the Auto Industry

Entering the world of virtual reality used to be the stuff of dreams. Now the technology is here, and it’s making us question everything we thought was possible.

We’ve already seen VR tech have a big impact in the field of automotive alone. The way we design, test-drive, and shop for cars may never be the same! Here are some of our favorite examples of how virtual reality is beginning to change what’s possible in the world of automotive.

Product Design & Development

Virtual reality technology can allow automotive companies to design and produce smarter vehicle solutions in less time. Before VR tech stepped into the space, a new idea would typically be tested through the production of several physical prototypes. Since automakers no longer have to rely solely on a physical prototype of a new model, development can start sooner and with multiple approaches to testing and experimentation throughout the design process

Ford is one of the many automakers discovering a world of possible applications for VR tech. When developing a new vehicle concept, Ford can simulate various common in-car experiences. And this sort of virtual testing goes beyond what you might expect. For example, they can even use an Oculus Rift headset to simulate the experience of using a flashlight to look around a car in the dark.

Test-Driving

Once the design process is complete, virtual reality can allow you to test-drive a new vehicle even before it hits the showroom floor. Volvo has gone so far as to create a mobile app that allows a user to test-drive a Volvo vehicle, anytime and anyplace, in a virtual world. The Volvo Reality app leverages Google cardboard  to turn your smartphone into a virtual reality headset. It allows an immersive experience of pretty much everything except the new car smell!

And for those of us who don’t have Google Cardboard lying around, the virtual reality experience could soon be found at your local dealership!

Dealership Experience

Audi has stated that they plan to incorporate VR tech into the showroom environment and allow customers to personalize their vehicle specs right in the dealership: everything from colors, to electronic systems, inlays, and interior leather.

Ferrari has developed a VR app that can allow a consumer to step into a dealership and view all of the different vehicle configurations that may not be in stock. The app uses a camera to scan the showroom floor and identify which vehicles can be seen in person, and then allows the customer to view how those vehicles can be personalized. The app also allows someone to see beyond the sheet-metal and learn about how the body of the car functions mechanically.

Experiential Education

Toyota uses Oculus Rift technology to educate teenagers and parents about the dangers of distracted driving. The TeenDrive365 campaign uses a driving simulator to create a virtual experience of distracted driving. The experience is meant to spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and start a conversation between parents and teens about the importance of staying focused on the road.

Beyond Automotive

It’s important to mention that virtual reality has many applications outside of the automotive industry as well. And the ways in which this technology can be used continues to grow.  Virtual simulations are used as invaluable training tools for military and law enforcement personnel, and an educational tool for mechanics, surgeons, and those with special needs.

NASA has piloted a program which uses virtual reality to improve the quality of life and mental wellness of astronauts on long-term space missions. And, it’s a technology that has made waves in the fields of tourism, advertising, entertainment, and skilled trades such as welding.

There are so many exciting uses of VR tech both in the field of automotive and beyond – we couldn’t cover them all here. What are you most excited for as virtual reality moves into the automotive space? Let us know in the comments!

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