Partnering with BT, Ericsson and Nvidia among others, vehicle battery manufacturer Hyperbat is to deploy 5G virtual reality (VR) “digital twin” technology to allow its remote teams working in different parts of the UK to connect, collaborate and interact using a virtual 3D engineering model.
By enabling dispersed teams across design, engineering and manufacturing to collaborate more efficiently, Hyperbat believes the technology will accelerate innovation in the UK manufacturing sector.
Hyperbat – alongside partners BT, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technology, Nvidia, Masters of Pie and The Grid Factory – has unveiled details of the system and demonstrated how it will reduce product cycle time between design, engineering and manufacturing teams based in Coventry and Oxfordshire.
The system, comprising high-bandwidth and low-latency 5G connectivity and integrated by Ericsson’s D-15 Lab in California – is intended to enable Hyperbat to deliver engineering projects at scale. It is said to offer the world’s first untethered 5G native experience created to allow design and engineering teams to walk around and interact with a 3D life-size model in real time through a single self-contained device, and without the constraints of a physical connection.
Hyperbat employees in different locations will be able to work with a 1:1 product scale hologram of the design in-situ on the factory floor, review designs in real time, and manage workflows much more effectively. This will empower teams to improve build efficiency within the manufacturing processes, while removing current complexities between product management systems, supply chain and factory operations.
The 5G VR digital twin will be deployed by BT and Ericsson on a 5G mobile private network using a 5G-enabled VR headset powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform. The VR headset will run on the Masters of Pie Radical platform, enabling Hyperbat to use cloud-based virtual reality within computer-aided design (CAD) software. Using edge compute, the technology also includes hardware and software from Nvidia to integrate into existing factory floor operations.
Qualcomm’s VR headset incorporates split rendering, in which all the perception-based data is held locally on the device, and computing is handled in the cloud and streamed by the Nvidia CloudXR and Nvidia RTX Virtual Workstation. This helps to achieve a high-fidelity VR experience that produces a real-life experience for the manufacturing teams.
The Hyperbat system is near completion, with results of the collaboration expected in early summer. Hosein Torabmostaedi, Unipart manufacturing digital and innovation manager, said: “Hyperbat is honoured to be working with such an incredible consortium of partners to pioneer a solution that lays the foundations for smart factory architecture and efficient, flexible and collaborative manufacturing.
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“The solution is mainly targeted at collaborative mobile workforces with the use of 5G native headsets and seamless integration of design and manufacturing systems with the digital twin technologies. Hyperbat also hopes to extend the solution to the use of 5G connectivity for machines to enable configurable and flexible production lines.”
Jeremy Spencer, 5G innovation senior manager at BT’s Enterprise unit, added: “This world-first 5G digital twin solution is a powerful reminder that 5G connectivity and edge compute is very much here now, delivering real business benefits for our customers. 5G connectivity, when combined with the latest emerging tech, can produce incredible efficiency gains, which will be so important in boosting the UK manufacturing sector as it recovers from Covid.
“It will also bring a welcome boost to many other industries where collaboration is required. We are thrilled to be working with Hyperbat and such a strong network of partners to bring this innovation to life, made possible by combining our collective strengths across a range of technologies.”
Björn Odenhammar, CTO, networks and managed services at Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “5G will have a transformative impact in the industries and technologies of the future and this collaboration is another demonstration of how low latency, edge compute and wireless networking will be critical to digitisation within the enterprise sector.
“By delivering operational efficiencies through 5G technology, we are laying a foundation that can help to drive innovation in manufacturing, boost the economy and position the UK as a leading 5G nation.”