Hyundai’s bluffing trick for designing its cars around the world

VR allows studios in Korea, the USA, China and Europe to work together on the same project, playing with distances and time differences. Explanation with the example of the Seven concept, which prefigures the future Ionic 7 model expected for next year on our roads.

Having the right to visit a manufacturer’s design studio is not given to everyone. But instead of seeing concept cars, clay models of future models, or walls of drawings, at Hyundai Europe near Frankfurt, we were treated to a real tour of a…virtual world. A kind of metaverse in design mode, as it takes on a new dimension with the Korean manufacturer.

“The dedesign has been Hyundai’s number one purchase criterion for a number of years,” explains Thomas Bürkle, designer in charge of the European studio. This ex-BMW has been here since 2005, at the head of a studio that has grown from 10 to now 70 people, signing series models such as the i10, i30, Tucson, Santa Fe, sports models with the N label, as well as a dozen showcars.

Big fan of the Citroën SM, the German is far from being digital native but he appreciates the possibilities offered by new technologies that he co-presents to us with Simon Loasby (vice-president at the head of Hyundai Styling), yet 10,000 km from Germany, in Korea.

A closeness despite the distance used in their daily work, as if to literally discuss side by side the details of a bumper or a dashboard. “Designers cheat a lot,” laughs T. Bürkle. And it is precisely to stick to industrial realities that the development models must be extremely precise, without however forgetting to be as beautiful as possible.

Until recently, the techniques of design studios went through the stages of classic sketches by hand, then small scale models to visualize the various projects in three dimensions, followed for the lucky ones by scale models. scale 1. A long and costly job for heavy (2.5 tons) and fragile models to be taken to the brand’s various studios to get the opinions of the different teams and, crucial step, the validation of the patterns .

Hyundai’s bluffing trick for designing its cars around the world

Then, the “clay model” is scanned to begin work on the digital data for industrialization. But that was before the advent of the 3D visualization studios that have equipped the brand since 2015. This has allowed the design process to go 80% digital. This is a good thing with the arrival of the pandemic, a period during which the Seven concept was developed in very close collaboration between Germany and Korea.

“It’s not aboutas so manyshorten development time what of find design maturity earlierthinking about the interior at an earlier stage”, explains T. Bürkle. The arguments are also better coordination of work, boosted creativity, reduced costs (-15%), less waste of materials and a CO footprint.2 reduced with less travel, even if it is a somewhat more anecdotal argument on the scale of a car manufacturer whose group produced more than 6 million cars in 2021.

Garage XXL virtual

We enter a huge room of 20 x 22 m, fitted out for this purpose from 2017, with an investment of 1.5 million euros. A huge wall of 8K LEDs 6.5 m wide allows a first visualization of the model, before equipping itself for 3D visualization.

Forty-eight Optitrack cameras are distributed all around the studio to ensure the positioning of each participant, with an ultra-precise active tracking system. 10 people can simultaneously be around a car projected in front of them, equipped with an HP Reverb 2 virtual reality headset and HP on-board computer with Nvidia 2080 in a backpack that makes up a hell of a harness.

Once equipped, we move into a virtual world in which it takes a bit of getting used to before feeling comfortable. The Seven concept is there, in front of us, in real size and walking around the model requires time to adapt. The other journalists are visualized by avatars, just like Simon Loasby who gives us a tour of the owner.

With 2,200 pixels wide per eye, the definition remains relatively pixelated, while small jerks sometimes appear in the image when you turn your head. An impressive rendering all the same, which improves when approaching closely. There, the painting of the virtual concept reveals all its subtleties, and each detail is refined.

Different different environments can be projected to put the car in moods to choose from. In lack of even more realistic sensations? Hyundai teams are working on the development of gloves to obtain a feeling of touch.

Hyundai’s bluffing trick for designing its cars around the world

Photos of the brand’s bosses with this equipment on their dark suits make them look like strange insects, but beware, it is in this outfit that crucial decisions are now made, in this sort of metaverse of design. Simon Loasby always has with him a complete kit that allows you to immerse yourself in it, which he calls his James Bond kit: an anonymous backpack that carries the computer and the helmet, and allows him to do a design review in an airport Starbucks!

The modeled interior

For the development of the interior, the designers use a different system employing mixed reality technology. The Vario XR-3 helmets are equipped with cameras to visualize the environment around the car (materialized simply by seats) and, for example, to be able to see the people around or insert different environments. Vive Pro controllers allow you to act on different elements of the interior, such as opening a storage or a door for example.

Again, the image remains pixelated, but let’s not forget that this is a work tool with a focus on materials, and the speed of their change in the system to test different solutions. Here, it is not data in the form of polygons as for games, but directly NURBS (data already ready for construction directly) used by the Autodesk VRED software.

Enough to move forward as quickly as possible in the translation of the Concept Seven into a production car is close, since the resulting Ionic 7 electric SUV is expected on our roads for mid-2023. Based on the Korean group’s 100% electric platform called e-GMP, it’s a very livable large SUV (and equipped with anti-bacteria materials), with a giant wheelbase of 3.20 m.

It will have an assertive design, since the Ionic models tend to stay close to the concepts that announce them, even if the latter are nevertheless very… conceptual. In the meantime, the real hard concept car presented at the Los Angeles show last year is still in the USA. We haven’t seen it in real life, but we already know it well in virtual mode, like many of the brand’s 600 or so designers from all over the world.

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Source: Frandroid by

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