Audi Takes Car Configuration to the Next Level

Audi's Virtual Showroom 1 photo
Photo: Audi
The Ingolstadt-based carmaker has joined forces with Quadro GPU maker Nvidia and virtual reality suppliers Oculus and HTC and revealed at CES 2016 a new virtual system that will allow its customers to build and configure their cars and even offered a glimpse of how they will sound.
The German company wants to change the classic car configurator by developing a virtual showroom where future Audi owners will be able to explore the entire car range in high detail using VR goggles and an immersive digital experience.

At the world’s foremost annual show of digital technologies, attendees already tasted this new gizmo from Audi, configuring any model through virtual reality headsets.

After the enormous success of the digital power walls at the first Audi City dealerships in important world capitals, including London and Beijing, back in 2013 the German automaker began developing the virtual experience with its VR Car Configurator, which serves as a starting platform for today’s VR systems.

The models used by Audi can be broken down graphically into five to seven million polygons. Engineers will have a hard time rendering each model into three dimensions and enable it to move fluidly in virtual reality, as for the customers to be part of this virtual world, Audi systems must be able to reproduce content at a rate of 90 frames per second.

A big obstacle was that, two years ago, there were no graphic engines able to display Audi’s vehicles in virtual reality at the desired level of execution, so the German company teamed up with Zerolight and developed its own graphic engine especially for VR, which was later optimized by Nvidia.

There is not much time to wait until customers will be able to go to an Audi dealership and choose whatever model they want, even if it isn’t physically there, because this new system is expected to be installed for the first time in a U.S. dealership later this year.
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