Designer Cor Steenstra made use of the latest VR tools when he was tasked to design the unique and futuristic aerodynamic long distance zero emission coach for Thunder Sky Winston Energy Group and GFMI Metalcrafters Inc. featured in an earlier post here.
Since aerodynamics on a long distance zero emission coach are from the utmost importance to extend the range and reduce the drag coefficient, Steenstra suggested a central driving position to reduce the initial frontal impact of the coach, allowing it to improve its drag coefficient substantially compared to all major competitors. The coach would be built for the Chinese as well as the US markets, so the central driving position would prove to be of importance in that area as well, since it reduces the cost for making special LHD and RHD version of the coach.
To ensure this would not prove to be cause problems in practical usage, Steenstra used the latest software from Autodesk VRED combined with the Occulus Rift to put the package all elements correctly in the most ergonomic way. Through the Occulus he was then able to make proper assessments on how viable the central driving position would be for the everyday chauffeur of such a bus, what the visibility obstacles would be and how to improve visibility to ensure maximum safety.
In doing these VR tests, Steenstra also discovered an added advantage in that, with the tapering of the front as well as the rear, not only did the aerodynamics improve substantially, also the maneuverability in the more narrow urban areas would improve in being able to handle more tight corners precisely and without incident.
All this research led to a fundamentally different and unique design, which, also using the same Autodesk VRED software and the Occulus Rift, could be convincingly presented to the client in a virtual way, thereby easing the decision-making process and reducing the development time. Seeing and experimenting with VR allows for all involved to quickly and convincingly visualize and experience the consequences of unique design concepts and valuate their advantages and disadvantages.
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According to Steenstra, Virtual Reality still has a way to go to develop properly, but it, together with Augmented Reality will play an essential part in the design development of future transportation, cars, buses, trains and plains. VR is here to stay.
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Cornelis (Cor) Steenstra has been an internationally renowned car designer since 1983, employed by companies like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda and Hyundai-Kia in Europe as well as running a great many projects through his Foresee Car Design Consultancy in Europe, the US and Japan for companies like Porsche, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Fisker and BMW Designworks. Steenstra was also responsible for the development of the Steenstra GCM Styletto concept, and is working on various zero emission car projects as well as projects to optimize and innovate our infrastructure.
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