In assembly operations, an unnecessary step would result to wasted time, effort and resources. That is why at Audi, they are checking whether each of the listed assembly steps is necessary, ergonomic, and feasible for the production process.
Yes, even before the German premium carmaker makes the initial prototypes of a new vehicle, its engineers working in the Pre-Series Center check each step in a 3-D projection.
Using virtual tools, these engineers assemble vehicle components, and at the same time determine whether a certain assembly step is viable for production line workers.
Each step is being tested virtually for their practicality to be used daily in the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE), moving each component using simple gestures. CAVE is comprised of projection surfaces on the floor and wall, on which projectors display 3D images of the vehicle components.
CAVE thus creates a virtual reality into which engineers can work using 3D glasses. To move those components during the pre-series developers, engineers need something to control them. That is why pre-series developers use a controller from a games console.
Pretty soon, it will be simple gestures that will control the movements. According to Katharina Kunz, Audi development engineer for virtual validation, the team wants to soon be able to pick up and move components in a more intuitive manner in the future.
That is why Kunz and her team are pilot testing a new control device, the Myo armband. This armband -- developed in the gaming industry for gesture control -- measures the muscle currents in the forearm and then determines how the wearer is moving his or her arm and fingers.
Then, the armbrand – via Bluetooth -- transmits the motion data to a computer, which in turn gathers the user’s position coordinates through the aid of the Kinect infrared camera on the ceiling.
To make sure that the Myo armband does not read every movement as a control gesture, users activate the system simply by touching their thumb and middle finger.
Interestingly, Kunz and her team frequently use technologies developed for the gaming world. She said that these technologies are ideal for them as they are relatively inexpensive and are being developed rapidly. Pre-Series Center engineers target to employ the Myo in series operation in the next few months.