Ford announced that it's collaborating with Gravity Sketch to help design new vehicles that are more human-centric than in the past courtesy of new, cutting-edge tech. Gravity Sketch allows the manufacturer's design team to create models around themselves and adjust the features to best suit the vehicle's occupants, all through virtual reality. Ford claims it's the first automaker to work with such technology.
In the past, Ford used Microsoft's HoloLens in its design studios to see how different features would look on its 3D models and this is a continuation of that trend; using VR and other futuristic tools to develop more efficient, user-friendly cars and trucks.
As part of the current process, designers start with a traditional 2D sketch that is scanned to create a high-quality illustration that will eventually become 3D models using CAD (computer-aided design) software. Those CAD models are then transferred into a virtual reality environment where designers evaluate the designs. Ford says this process can take weeks to complete so designers are forced to be very particular about which designs move past the 2D sketch phase.
With Gravity Sketch, the process is sped up from weeks to hours according to Ford. Designers can create directly in the 3D space negating the need for scans, CAD modeling, and the transfer into virtual reality.
"Designers can anchor a driver at the center, rotating their 3D design to view it from any angle to create a scalable vehicle around their driver," Ford's press release for the announcement reads. "They can even step inside the vehicle sketch to quickly adjust design attributes to best suit occupants. Gravity Sketch enables Ford designers to place the customer at the very center of the vehicle as designers are sketching it."
Ford design manager Michael Smith was especially gung-ho about the collab. “This application has the potential to help ensure we are delivering the very best vehicle designs for our customers," Smith said. "It moves the entire process into the world of virtual reality, giving us greater options for reviewing more models in the 3D environment to create the best possible vehicles.”
Ford designers are now testing Gravity Sketch to evaluate its usability in the automaker's design process. Virtual reality could potentially allow designers from its different design studios to work together in real time on a single model from locations around the world.