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A new driving force: how sim racing is changing the automotive industry

September 29, 2022

The global automotive industry is expanding its lanes, moving at full speed between technological transformation and digitalization. The industry is increasing its pace to keep up with the changing world as they prepare to face multiple new challenges, for example:

  • New regulations around emissions and increasing awareness.
  • China and India are emerging as new strong players in a competitive landscape.
  • A shift of ownership as consumers are less invested in owning a car.
  • A new infrastructure involving electric and connected cars depends on a different city design.
  • Critical revenue curves where the need is to keep the business alive.
  • Car companies need to battle talent scarcity for the best talent.

The sector is adapting by creating a broader action portfolio centered on the vehicle and user and understanding, improving, and implementing the data acquired for the product engineering design. Its plan to achieve such a goal is to use all available simulation software & technology to accelerate and make the manufacturing process more efficient while adding value to the supply chain and even aid Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in transforming the customer experience.

Simultaneously, OEMs are racing for the metaverse through different efforts, such as product showcases, virtual immersion training, gaming partnerships, virtual venues, and more. So, where does sim racing fit in all of this? 

The simulation road

In recent years, the automotive sector has used driving simulators to improve a driver’s skills in a real-time artificial environment, increasing safety and testing. This use is applied by different industries, such as railways, aviation, and marine, to analyze further and improve their designs. 

“The driving simulator market size was valued at USD 585.05 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 790.90 million by 2027.” 

Simulated racing, known as sim racing or racing simulation, seems to be impacting real-world racing in a big way, using simulation for design, development, training, testing, decision-making, and research. Sim racing has “…become an invaluable development tool — for drivers, teams and the sport as a whole” as it seems to fuel ideas and inspiration for some, like NASCAR. 

Shifting gears between the simulated world of racing and the real one

The advantages of employing a simulator (Sim) to improve a driver’s skills are now well known, thanks to iRacing, Assetto Corsa, and R Factor, among others. 

 iRacing, one of the most popular and realistic games in the sim racing world, recently partnered with NASCAR to design new circuits, such as the quarter-mile track used at the L.A. Coliseum in February and the Chicago road course, where NASCAR is to host a “Chicago Street Race Weekend” in July 2023. iRacing has drivers from NASCAR, Formula One, and IndyCar. Lando Norris from McLaren and former champion Fernando Alonso have participated in its races, and 2021 Formula One world champion Max Verstappen. 

Verstappen has shared that sim racing has benefited his career because it allows him to acquire further analysis of the track while helping him improve his driving skills in real life, adopting a different driving technique. 

The Red Bull prodigy who recently won the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix has said that “he takes sim racing as seriously as real-life racing and will even spend time discussing online setups with his team at the same time as trying to set up his Red Bull for an F1 Grand Prix.”

Behind the wheel of innovation: simulation

Simulation technologies can place vehicle design in the driver’s seat of innovation, applying it to other aspects of its development, such as building greener cars. The awareness of global warming has led many brands, companies, and organizations to focus on reducing CO2 emissions. This has also become a priority for the automotive industry, using simulation as a tool to reach better feature development that aids in decarbonization.

Although innovation takes time, time is a luxury no longer affordable when it comes to creating greener vehicles; that’s why simulation grants the industry such a great opportunity. “At all stages of vehicle design, from aerodynamics to battery management system testing, simulation enables rapid, risk-free testing and development. Development in simulation reduces design lead times and increases time to market.”

Simulation allows showing and exploring how the vehicle performs in different scenarios and environments. It helps design and optimize features, facilitates efficiency for innovation safely, and is fundamental to artificial intelligence systems training when developing autonomous vehicles.

“Major automaker companies, technology giants, and specialist start-ups have invested more than USD 50 billion over the past five years to develop autonomous vehicle (A.V.) technology… At the same time, public authorities see that A.V.s offer substantial potential economic and social benefits.”

How OEMs are test-driving the highway

The landscape of OEMs is significantly shaped by how they apply different implementation tools to reimagine and reinvent their mobility solutions. Some of the efforts include:: 

  • BMW Group is scaling its data lake, processing terabytes of telemetry data from millions of vehicles daily. They have built a digital factory twin of their manufacturing facilities with NVidia Omniverse and NVidia A.I. Recently, they launched their new Joytopia streaming platform, focused on offering experiences in the metaverse.
  • Hyundai Motor officially launched a metaverse space called ‘Hyundai Mobility Adventure,’ the first virtual experience content on Roblox made by a global automotive company to showcase future mobility lifestyles in the metaverse.
  • Last year, Ferrari, in partnership with Unreal Engine, introduced Fortnite’s scalable cross-platform multiplayer world, its 296 GTB hybrid sports car, changing history as it is the first highly realistic, drivable vehicle within a game. 
  • Porsche has launched an Augmented Reality Visualizer App, where you can choose from any model line and change exterior colors before choosing your final vehicle. 
  • Acura, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini are producing a non-fungible token (NFT) to include with a new vehicle, the 2023 Acura Integra. Acura also announced its presence in the metaverse with a new virtual Decentraland digital auto showroom auto.

 The particular case of the Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company uses gaming to reinvent how its vehicles are created, as “engineers use simulations to test how helpful new technologies are to clients, while designers construct virtual prototypes using animations.” It launched Ford Gaming, a platform with more than 1000 digital models into different games, looking for customer engagement to enhance its experience, create new features, and apply feedback from customers, something previously done through prototypes. 

The way we are transforming how we design our products and services is exciting, with gaming playing an integral role in taking our creativity and thinking to new places. That extends to our newly established Experience Labs in Design, where gamification is a key enabler for creating meaningful experiences for our customers in the future.” –Amko Leenarts, Director of Design, Ford of Europe.

More Ford automobiles are in video games versus other manufacturers. Recently, Ford built a virtual gaming race car with gamers to design and anticipate future trends allowing esports fans to decide the look of the Team Fordzilla P1.

Globant’s Automotive Studio, putting the pedal to technology

The imagination of Globant’s automotive studio is built by its cross-industry studios, where each discipline and expertise is the key to building the bridge between the automotive industry and a digital revolution filled with innovation. 

From immersive customer experiences and augmented design to state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering, Globant’s teams focus on a new generation of vehicle technology and expertise.  

Learn more about how the Automotive Studio at Globant is assembling new solutions for the future of the automotive industry. 

 

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