SCT continues to observe and report on industries around the globe embracing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) throughout their systems and products’ life cycles. One recent, attention-getting case of these technologies being used to gain efficiencies on the “front end” of products life cycles (testing and development), can be gleaned at Allison Transmission’s new Vehicle Environmental Test (VET) center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Allison Transmission brand is familiar around the globe, with the company noting “it is the largest global manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions and a supplier of commercial vehicle propulsion solutions, including electric hybrid and fully electric propulsion systems.”
To help Allison maintain its edge in this sector, the company recently opened the VET center to conduct year-round testing, replicating vehicle environments and duty cycles, compressing product development times and supporting innovation for the industry.
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The 60,000-square-foot facility houses a hot soak chamber, a cold soak chamber, and two chassis dyne-equipped environmental chambers capable of simulating a broad range of duty cycles, environmental conditions from negative 54° to 125° F (12° to 52° C), altitudes up to 18,000ft (5,486m), simulated grades and other on-road conditions. The VET center can accommodate most commercial on-highway, off-highway and wheeled defense vehicle applications, supporting testing for a wide-range of propulsion systems, including conventional powertrains, alternative fuel, electric hybrid, fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. A corporate document added, “It is located on the campus of Allison Transmission’s global headquarters in Indianapolis, is the only one of its kind in the Midwest and is truly unique in offering this range of capabilities for public use.”
Jeanne Rues, Director at Allison Transmission, further told SCT, the Vehicle Environmental Test Center is a key enabler for advancing product development of the technologies and innovation that drive Allison. The corporate executive added, “Innovation in product development often coincides with innovation in the product development process. The VET, itself, is an innovation in the product development process. Its capabilities facilitate more efficient and effective product development, compressing the time it takes to get ideas and technology to the market. Also, the high-quality data produced during testing are driven back into the virtual models, analytics, and simulations.”
Of specific interest to SCT, “This virtual new product development represents a powerful opportunity for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies.”
Allison has already made an investment in VR and AR technology for assisting in computer-aided design, product training, and marketing activities. Indeed, the use of these underlying technologies at Allison will expand.
The Allison Director concluded, “Our new Innovation Center is the next evolution and will include virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies aimed at driving collaboration and innovation both within Allison and with our OEMs, suppliers, and partners to design and integrate the vehicle system more efficiently, getting products to market faster with higher confidence.”