Working from his home office more than 40 miles away from the Ford design studio in Dearborn, Michigan, Moray Callum, Ford vice president of design, fires up his computer. Todd Willing, Ford global design director, straps virtual reality goggles over his head from his home in a northern Detroit suburb. And working from their own respective home offices in southeast Michigan, Ford’s Joel Piaskowski, global design director, cars and crossovers, and Ian McLaughlin, director, design engineering and technical operations, both log on.
For all of them, it’s the quickest trip to the design studio ever.
In short order, these key members of the Ford design leadership team enter a virtual world that substitutes their usual physical clay model reviews with a digital tour of a CAD-generated model of a vehicle going through development. In a world suddenly dictated by concerns of coronavirus spread, Ford has quickly implemented the immersive capabilities of virtual reality to allow Callum, Willing, Piaskowski and McLaughlin to work remotely and keep vehicle programs moving through the approval process.
“We began implementing this technology about five years ago, but none of us ever imagined we would employ it the way we have the past couple of weeks,” said Michael Smith, Ford digital design manager. “It’s a huge advantage and enables our digital design team to work at a level of detail that is unique to virtual reality.”