Dacia Jogger: virtually real design

Vehicle design has evolved a lot over recent decades. While designers have replaced their pencils with 3D modelling, engineers are testing future models long before the first physical prototypes see the light of day. How so? Thanks to CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), a virtual reality platform that can be used to move around outside and inside a vehicle during its design phase. At the Titu Technical Centre in southern Romania, Dacia teams have tested the fully immersive experience. As such, they optimised interior modularity and spaciousness on the All-new Dacia Jogger. Here is their story.

While travelling back to the future like Marty McFly aboard Doc’s infamous DeLorean DMC-12 is still within the realm of science fiction, we can already live a little ahead of our own time thanks to the new technology offered by the automotive industry. Let us head to Titu, where engineers are already living embarking on extraordinary adventures, climbing aboard models... that do not yet exist. This small town located 45 minutes from Bucharest, home to just under 10,000 inhabitants, is certainly far from the Hollywood hills, but is nevertheless host to Renault Group’s second largest testing facility in the world. State-of-the-art technology, winding tracks, numerous test lines, even ‘torture’ chambers to test the resistance of materials, and... a CAVE – a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment.  This is where Ionut, in charge of product ergonomics, takes us on a journey into parallel universe.  A virtual journey to bring us closer to reality.

CAVE is a tool used to have a life-like simulation of reality. It is used to immerse oneself in the vehicle and judge how drivers and passengers perceive on board safety, ergonomics, and comfort, and then apply corrections in real time.
Ionut, Product Ergonomics Manager

Five walls, ten projectors, and six million pixels

CAVE is the ideal tool to validate a new model’s schematics even before the first physical prototype can be made. With stereoscopic videos projected along five walls, the immersive space surrounds users in a reality of multiple dimension. Users can then move around the vehicle and even climb on board as if it were a real scale-model. After a thorough inspection using 3D glasses and multiple interactions between testers, a few clicks are all they need to alter the vehicle’s design. Everything is tested with the level of precision made possible by six-million-pixel resolution: ergonomics of the dashboard controls, visibility across the vehicle’s different corners, accessibility, comfort, and even the overall design.

CAVE is a tool used to have a life-like simulation of reality

CAVE goes hand in hand with immersive helmets thanks to its superior image quality and interactive capabilities, where multiple designers can observe and work on the same vehicle, even in a driving situation. The pixel resolution is the same as that of the human eye, the user sees the vehicle as if were indeed real.
Andras, Expert Leader Renault Group, Immersive Simulation and VR

Thanks to CAVE, the user sees the vehicle as if were indeed real.

The virtual reality system makes it possible to validate a vehicle’s characteristics even in the very early stages of a project, without having to create multiple physical prototypes. Thanks to CAVE, we save more than 2 million euros per year.
Ionut, Product Ergonomics Manager

A new virtual world

Walking along a mountain path while staying firmly inside a room may seem impossible. But with CAVE, testers are often taken on complex assignments. For example, when testing the third row of seats in the new seven-seater Dacia Jogger family car, a group of thirteen people was chosen to take a journey into the virtual world. Young and old (anthropometric measurements approved!), women and men, jobs of all types...  the selection criteria were very precise in order to get an understanding that was as close to reality as possible. The virtual road was also configured to test all sensations: passive driving (outdoor scenery scrolls by as if you were actually driving even though the pedals are not active), static confirmation (visibility, ergonomics, design), and physical perception (comfort, safety). For the All-new Jogger, user impressions provided by those how had the immersive CAVE experience led to the vehicle's architecture being altered: the second row of the seats was brought forward by 20 mm!

For the All-new Jogger, thanks to CAVE, the second row of the seats was brought forward by 20 mm!

We optimised interior modularity and created a very comfortable third row for all passengers. We were able to change the positioning of the seats in real time without pushing back the project’s schedule.
Ionut, Product Ergonomics Manager

In the future, several users will be able to interact with a single object, in a collaborative mode and simultaneously. Mini LED technology will soon make it possible to build CAVE systems with video projected on walls, in regular project review rooms.
Andras, Expert Leader Renault Group, Immersive Simulation and VR

Rapid validation, multiple test runs, cost reduction, user interactions… the advantages of this tool are numerous and reflect the DNA of Dacia: cars adapted to what its customers require! Just ask owners of the All-new Jogger.