The implementation of AR in the automotive industry is driving it to new unimaginable destinations, benefiting businesses and customers equally.
The automotive industry is seeing a rapid transformation with substantial investments in technology in recent years. These technologies primarily are aimed at improving the driving experience for the customers and don’t necessarily improve the business end processes for manufacturers. However, the use of AR in the automotive industry can help businesses streamline their operations, helping them save time, money, and human resources currently spent in their operations. AR promises to simplify the working procedures for employees by providing an intuitive and interactive method right from the pre-production to the after-sales process. Some of the applications of AR in the automotive industry that are beneficial to businesses are listed below:
Four Applications of AR in the Automotive Industry
Reshaping the Designing and Manufacturing Process
Designing an automobile is the most critical process in the industry. The success or failure of the automotive product depends entirely on its design, which includes both the interior and exterior components. Currently, the process involves a design engineer drawing and designing the automobile components manually or on a digital device. Prototypes are then created to test the working of the components and the automobile in real-world conditions. This process is often lengthy and requires enormous capital investment to test multiple components to find the most suitable ones.
AR can simplify the designing process, eliminating the prototype creation stage. With AR, the design engineers can project 3D models of the designed vehicle in the real-world. The design and functioning of individual components can be assessed in the AR model itself by simulating different environments. The engineers can also easily swap out individual components to determine the best parts for the vehicle. Thus, the designing and testing process naturally becomes time and cost-efficient. Engineers no longer need to create multiple prototypes of the vehicle, and the testing can be completed using a single virtual model. Major industry players like Mercedes and Volkswagen have already started using AR technology in their designing and testing processes. The technology enables the design engineers to analyze different designs, colors, and variants of the vehicle. It gives them a clear picture of how the vehicle will perform on-road with the approved design.
The manufacturing process, too, is streamlined thanks to AR technology. With the help of AR glasses, employees working in the manufacturing unit can be passed information regarding the assembling procedure of the vehicle. This eliminates the need for employees to refer handbooks manually. The workers can get the complete information regarding the manufacturing and assembling process step by step in real-time. This improves the efficiency of the process, helping to save precious time. It also proves to be a more intuitive way of providing information to workers than referring to a static piece of paper for information. Industry heavyweight BMW has already implemented AR technology for the stud welding process. The welding machine encompasses infrared LEDs which is tracked with an optical tracking system. The system guides the welder to the target welding point, and thus the welding can be completed much faster.
Providing an Immersive Sales Experience
The sales process in the automotive industry has been almost the same since the beginning. The use of AR in the automotive industry is going to revamp the way purchases and sales are completed in the industry, from the perspective of businesses as well as customers. People already use mobile devices for online purchases. The automotive industry can leverage this trend and incorporate AR technology in their advertising and marketing campaigns. Businesses can use AR technology to create a ‘digital showroom’. This digital showroom will enable customers to virtually check and test out different automobile models in the comfort of their homes. They no longer need to visit a showroom physically. With this concept, they can check automotive options with various specifications, combinations, colors, and designs. This can help them make better-informed decisions before making the final purchase. Customers can even get a test drive of the vehicle within the comforts of their home and assess the vehicle’s performance in various scenarios. Jaguar Range Rover recently launched an augmented reality advertising campaign wherein customers could test drive the Range Rover Velar SUV with the help of a smartphone camera. The user could even get a 360-degree view of the car on the mobile app itself.
Thanks to such concepts, businesses no longer need to invest in high-end showrooms, saving them time, space, human resources, and money. It also provides for a much more informative, pleasurable, and innovative experience when compared to traditional sales experience. This can increase the probability of customers making purchases from them.
Improving the Driving Experience and Vehicle Safety
The use of AR in the automotive industry can help to enhance the driving experience and also improve road safety. An AR dashboard can be used to give extra information to the driver without blocking the driver’s view. This can include the speed of the vehicle, the traffic conditions on the road, and the vehicle’s condition. It can even alert the driver of unforeseen circumstances, such as an accident that might have happened on the road ahead that might cause delays in the journey. The driver can thus plan his trip in advance so that he reaches the destination in the shortest time possible.
AR solutions can also be employed to improve the safety of vehicles on the road. The AR technology, combined with machine learning and AI, can be used to provide real-time information about the vehicle’s performance during the commute. The AI system can detect any malfunctioning in the vehicle, and the same information can be conveyed using AR systems onboard. The AR dashboard can show the damaged part, the extent of damage, and the procedure to be carried out to repair the damaged part. Thus, the driver can be alerted of a breakdown well in advance, and he can make arrangements beforehand. This can help avoid mishaps occurring due to faults in the working of the automobile.
Streamlining the After-Sales Services and Maintenance Processes
As with the case of employees involved in the manufacturing stage, AR can be used to train employees involved in the after-sales and maintenance process too. The workers can be provided with devices such as glasses having AR capabilities. The workers can then be given step-by-step information regarding the maintenance and repair procedures by projecting them through the device. Information regarding the parts that need to be replaced, the tools to use, and the replacement process, in general, can be shared with the employees in real-time. This ensures that the repair procedures are streamlined, improving the efficiency of the procedures. For example, Volkswagen’s MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) AR solution labels the part to be repaired and gives instructions to the employees on how to place them in the vehicle, complete with their features and functioning.
An advanced application of AR in the automotive industry is telepresence. With telepresence, new employees can be trained and assisted, in case an employee faces any difficulties. Telepresence enables an employee to assist a worker remotely. With AR, both the employees have the same scenario in front of their eyes. The only difference being, one employee, is actually standing in front of a vehicle needs to be repaired, while the other employee can see the exact projection of the vehicle using an AR device. The helper can thus guide their colleague ensuring that the repair work continues without delays. Since AR enables to track processes in real-time, it reduces the probability of errors during the repair procedure, ensuring the process becomes efficient.
So what does the future hold for AR in the automotive industry? Going by the current trends and the confidence shown by top industry players in the technology, AR is poised to be at the forefront of the technologies being incorporated in the automotive world. This is evident from the fact that the global market for AR and its cousin technology VR is expected to reach USD 673 billion by 2025. The aforementioned applications are just a few of the numerous benefits AR technology can bring to the industry. What remains to be seen is how quickly and how innovatively the benefits of AR in the automotive industry will be leveraged, taking the industry to new levels.