Augmented Reality Is Driving the Automotive Manufacturing Industry into the Future

Augmented reality has clearly taken the automotive industry by storm. Major car manufacturers are using this emerging technology in different ways to make their processes easier, and to improve different aspects of their businesses.

Most auto brands have invested in AR, and it is not uncommon to see larger players using AR in diverse areas of the business—from supply chain management and technical workshop operations to retail and aftersales service delivery. Augmented reality is fast driving the automotive manufacturing industry into the future, and it appears we are just seeing a little of what it holds for the industry.

In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the key areas of automotive sector where AR adoption is proving its worth.

Augmented Reality for Engineers and Designers

Automotive engineers and designers can benefit meaningfully from augmented reality at their manufacturing plants and R&D labs. Volkswagen, for instance, has a virtual engineering lab in Wolfsburg, where the vehicle designers and engineers use augmented reality to complete more designs iterations faster. They can work on a virtual vehicle, design new components virtually and change equipment as they wish.

AR software enables vehicle designers to make several changes in their model designs in a smart manner, using voice command in some cases. Augmented reality also makes it possible for project teams to work on the same project from different locations.

Augmented Reality in Complex Assembly

The automotive manufacturing process involves putting different components together as fast as possible. There is need for precision in this process and each new product, or car model requires unique instructions. In the past, these instructions were contained in static PDFs. It can be tough working accurately with complex written instructions. But with augmented reality, the process of car assembly is being greatly improved with intuitive training and instruction capabilities that augmented reality offers.

Augmented Reality for Car Dealerships

Augmented reality is being used to improve dealership operations in a number of ways. With the way things are going, arguably, it is likely that there may not be the need for large traditional car showrooms. There are AR apps that make it possible for users to visualize life-size cars anytime, anywhere. And AR can be combined with physical dealership experiences by sales teams at car dealerships to give customers the first-hand experience of car models that physically unavailable in the showroom.

Furthermore, prospective buyers can visualize the car, open and close the trunk and doors to have a look inside and customize the car to a certain degree. The BMW iVisualizer, for instance, lets users change exterior color and wheel rims of their dream cars, and configure the interior just by tapping the buttons on the screens.

Augmented Reality Automotive Maintenance

Augmented reality can be very helpful in car maintenance. This is an important process that will improve the customer’s experience. Volkswagen’s Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistant App (MARTA) is one such application of the technology in automotive maintenance. The app offers service workers an intuitive way to see the car’s parts and fix problems.

Augmented Reality for Car Repair

Repairs are a key area that car manufacturers and service professionals can use automated reality for to improve aftersales service. In fact, BMW showcased this capability more than a decade ago with their augmented reality car repair, a proprietary AR smart glasses. There has been a lot of development since with mobile devices becoming the predominant form factor to consume augmented reality, bolstering the adoption of the technology. Smart glasses will likely be the preferred hardware for technicians—because it allows them to work freely, as opposed to holding up an iPad or tablet or smartphone. But irrespective of the hardware, AR promises significant benefits in the car repair area, especially in managing common mechanical issues at dealerships.

Augmented reality is clearly driving the automotive manufacturing industry into the future. Even though there is still huge, untapped, potential in the field, it has already done so much across different processes in the car manufacturing industry that it is only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream across the industry.