German automaker Mercedes-Benz is entering the industrial metaverse. The group relies on Nvidia’s Omniverse platform and its digital twin solution to design, plan and optimize its plants. The factory in Rastatt, Germany will be the first team.
Mercedes-Benz will use Nvidia’s Omniverse platform to further digitize car manufacturing. The rapprochement couldn’t be more logical since the two actors have known each other for several years. The auto group actually signed a deal with Nvidia in 2018 to develop autonomous vehicles while also integrating technologies like artificial intelligence. Following a fairly busy roadmap, the two partners regularly announced several innovations. In 2020, Mercedes announced that the American firm wants to welcome on-board systems in its latest models. For the German manufacturer, it’s all about customizing this system with the integration of Drive AGX Orin’s special software, so customers can regularly update this solution to get additional features.
This week, the two actors took advantage of CES 2023 to announce that they are strengthening their partnership and improving car manufacturing. “Mercedes-Benz is taking the first digital approach to car manufacturing, using the Nvidia Omniverse platform to design and plan production and assembly lines. By using Nvidia’s artificial intelligence and metaverse technologies, the automaker can reduce emissions, reduce energy consumption and improve quality,” says the graphics and network accelerator specialist. Omniverse, a real-time graphics collaboration platform created by Nvidia, is used for applications in the visual effects and industrial simulation industries with its digital twin. The automaker’s latest announcement further integrates these technologies into Mercedes-Benz’s development process.
Mercedes-Benz adopts Omniverse for vehicle assembly and production planning. (Credit: Nvidia)
The digital twin is an important tool in manufacturing
Car manufacturing is a huge undertaking that requires thousands of parts and workers to work together. Obviously, any supply chain or manufacturing issues can cause costly delays. In addition, when car manufacturers introduce a new model, they must reconfigure the layout of their production facilities to take into account the design of the future car. A change that could cause the production of other vehicles to stop and disrupt the global production chain. In this sense, Mercedes-Benz relies on Nvidia to avoid any possible problems at this level.
The firm plans to start building its next platform dedicated to electric vehicles at its factory in Rastatt, Germany. For those in the know, the site currently produces the A and B classes, as well as the GLA compact SUV and the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQA. The plan will then be rolled out to other parts of Mercedes-Benz’s global production network. Note that the manufacturer will run the Enterprise version of the platform, which has just received a major update.
Mercedes-Benz has been working with Nvidia for some time to develop software-defined cars. Its next fleets will be built on Drive Orin centralized computing with enhanced driving capabilities, tested and proven on the Omniverse-based Drive Sim platform. (Credit: Nvidia)
Nvidia is a ubiquitous player in the industry
Nvidia is already working on digital twin technology with other industry players. Its Omniverse platform is operated by Digitale Schiene Deutschland (DSD), part of Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn, to increase network capacity without building new tracks. The creation of the first digital twin on a national scale thus enabled the full simulation of the automatic operation of trains across the entire network. With this solution, DSD aims above all to develop high-performance detection, prevention and incident management systems to detect and optimally react to irregular situations during daily railway operations. “With NVIDIA technologies, we can start realizing the vision of a fully automated rail network,” said Ruben Schilling, head of the collection group at DB Netz, part of Deutsche Bahn.
Digitale Schiene Deutschland (DSD), part of Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn, is working with Nvidia to upgrade its network. (Credit: Nvidia)
Siemens was also interested in digital twin technology developed by Nvidia. The German industrialist links its Xcelerator solution with AI-based real-time simulation engine Omniverse to design high-fidelity digital twins in real-time. This technological symbiosis, now called the industrial metaverse, should bring a real advantage in 3D design and collaboration to visualize, for example, a production line in operation. Ultimately, Nvidia and Siemens want to deploy this industrial metaverse in any type of business and with equally diverse applications.
The connection between Siemens Xcelerator (left) and Nvidia Omniverse (right) will enable customers to develop high-fidelity, closed-design digital twins. (Credit: Siemens/Nvidia)
Nvidia picks up speed with Foxconn
On the presentation day of CES 2023, Nvidia took the opportunity to announce a partnership with Foxconn to develop autonomous car platforms. According to Reuters, Taiwanese subcontractor Drive said it will produce electronic control units (ECUs) for cars based on the Orin chip. The merger will allow it to step up its efforts to meet the growing demand for chips for autonomous and connected cars.
In addition to powering some Apple flagships, Foxconn makes electric cars for Lordstown Motors and has a contract to build Fisker’s second car model, the Pear. For its part, Nvidia sees a $300 billion market opportunity in the automotive sector, and reported third-quarter revenue of $251 million for that segment. As a result of this collaboration, future cars will have computers based on Drive Orin and Drive Hyperion sensors.