Traveling the scenic route between Wantage, a small town in Oxfordshire, and Coventry in the U.K. meanders up steep hills, past the birthplace of Shakespeare and skirts around 19th-century English bathhouses.
A project using edge computing and the world’s first 5G-enabled VR technology is enabling two engineering teams in those locales, about 70 miles apart, to collaborate as if they were in the same room.
The project is taking place at Hyperbat, the U.K.’s largest independent electric vehicle battery manufacturer. The company’s engineers are able to work simultaneously on a 1:1-scale digital twin of an EV battery.
They can immerse themselves in virtual tasks that mimic real life thanks to renders created using NVIDIA GPUs, RTX Virtual Workstation software and NVIDIA CloudXR technology. The digital transformation results in reduced inefficiencies and faster design processes.
Working in a New Reality
The team at Hyperbat, in partnership with BT, Ericsson, the GRID Factory, Masters of Pie, Qualcomm and NVIDIA, has developed a proof of concept that uses VR to power collaborative sessions.
Using a digital twin with VR delivers greater clarity during the design process. Engineers can work together from anywhere to effectively identify and rectify errors during the vehicle battery design process, making projects more cost-effective.
“This digital twin solution at Hyperbat is the future of manufacturing,” said Marc Overton, managing director of Division X, part of BT’s Enterprise business. “It shows how a 5G private network can provide the foundation for a whole host of new technologies which can have a truly transformative effect in terms of collaboration, innovation and speeding up the manufacturing process.”
See Hyperbat’s system in action:
Masters of Pie’s collaboration engine, called Radical, delivers a real-time extended reality (XR) experience that allows design and manufacturing teams to freely interact with a 3D, lifesize model of an electric vehicle battery. This gives the Hyperbat team a single source of truth for each project — no need for numerous iterations.
The 5G-enabled VR headset, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 platform, gives the team an untethered experience that can be launched with just one click. Designed specifically to address all the challenges of extended reality, it doesn’t require a lengthy setup, nor the importing and exporting of data. Designers can put on their headsets and get straight to work.
Speed Is Key
5G’s ultra-low latency, deployed using an Ericsson radio and private 5G network at Hyperbat, provides faster speeds and more reliable connections, as well as immediate response times.
Combining 5G with the cloud and XR removes inefficiencies in design processes and speeds up production lines, improvements that could greatly benefit the wider manufacturing sector.
And using Project Aurora — NVIDIA’s CloudXR and RTX Virtual Workstation software platform for XR streaming at the edge of the 5G network — large amounts of data can be rapidly processed on remote computers before being streamed to VR headsets with ultra-low latency.
Innovation on a New Scale
AI is reshaping almost every industry. VR and augmented reality provide windows for AI in industry and new design possibilities, with 5G making the technology more accessible.
“Hyperbat’s use case is another demonstration of how 5G and digitalization can really help boost the U.K.’s economy and industry,” said Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson U.K. and Ireland. This technology “can really drive efficiency and help us innovate on a whole new scale,” she said.