|Sindelfingen Germany - DaimlerChrysler's new
Virtual Reality Center in Sindelfingen, Germany houses more virtual reality capabilities
and compute power than any facility of its kind in the automotive industry.
estimates the new facility will reduce costs of making Mercedes-Benz prototype models by
up to 20 percen and substantially shorten product development times while improving
"Simulations and visualization allow us to examine a greater number of variants in
a shorter period of time and at lowe costs," said Hans-Joachim Schöpf, Chief
Engineer for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars and smart. "As a result, we ca rule out
non-viable options more quickly."
The combination of various virtual reality tools under one roof is what makes
DaimlerChrysler's facility unique. The key systems are described below.
The "Powerwall" - The 23 feet wide by 8 feet high Powerwall
is a visualization screen that can display both two-dimensional and three-dimensional data
in detail or in actual size. The Powerwall will be used primarily for small group
discussions. Several projectors cast images of the generated model onto the
semi-transparent screen. Data-intensive test, such as simulated crash tests are viewed on
the Powerwall. After a virtual crash test, engineers can fade out certain parts to get a
better view of what happens to components on the inside that are normally concealed.
The "Cave" - To analyze design options involving the
interior or driver controls, DaimlerChrysler engineers retreat to the one-of-a-kind Cave.
The five-sided Cave has three, eight-feet long sides and a ceiling and floor. Unlike other
caves, the walls are made of acrylic glass for much clearer and more detailed images than
traditional fabric walls. Each of the five walls projects images from its own graphics
computer. The difference between a Cave and a conventional monitor display or large-scale
projection is that the user is not only an external viewer but the user becomes part of
the virtual environmental. By wearing a data glove, an engineer's actual hand movement can
be viewed in the virtual world.
Curved-Screen Projection - Once the vehicle has reached an advanced
stage of development, the teams begin working with a partially constructed vehicle in
front of a curved-screen projection surface. The screen is a 14 feet by 23 feet
cylindrical projection screen covering a 200-degree angle. The user is immersed in a
virtual world with sight and sound. For example, the screeching tire sound of a vehicle in
a tight curve is heard while the driving dynamics are viewed on the screen.
The Virtual Reality Center uses a graphics computer from Silicon Graphics; this
clustered computer has more than 6 processors, 15 gigabytes of RAM and 14 graphic
subsystems (graphic pipes) that operate independently. As configured I Sindelfingen, the
computer has a memory bandwidth of 22.4 gigabytes per second -- more than 200 times the
computing power of a typical personal computer.
(April 17, 2000)