Using technology to visualize the inner workings of the vehicle
When Caresoft Global’s President and CEO Mathew Vachaparampil demonstrated the technology developed by his engineering company, the audience audibly gasped.
Caresoft developed a vehicle benchmarking process using a high-energy scan to gain insights into vehicle design, electronic components, pricing, and more. Since launching at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the company has attracted over 25 global OEM customers, including several Tier -I suppliers, with its patent-pending technology.
Caresoft starts with a high-energy scan of a complete vehicle, “the first time that someone has used a CT scan to reverse engineer or benchmark a car,” Vachaparampil said. The equipment, originally developed for the U.S. military to check for quality defects inside bombs, is 80 times more powerful than a hospital scan.
The resulting digital imagery shows every part of the car, low-density, and high-density, down to individual screws. Density variations are used to identify the objects and materials, estimate the geometry of each part, and determine the vehicle architecture. Dimensions and geometries for some of the low-density components that don’t scan as well are examined physically.
Caresoft also developed software that allows the reconstruction and segmentation of data for a complete set of engineering data for an entire car. “Our objective is, we take the competitors vehicle and we can give you the same data that the competitor company has itself.”
Vachaparampil and his colleague Prideep then gave a live demonstration of how to view the results in three dimensions using data prepared from the company owned Tesla Model 3. Donning a VR headset projecting onto the big screen, Prideep “dove” into the Tesla Model 3. Turning his head left and right, up and down, he provided the audience a view not only of the Model 3 interior but of the interior of the materials and components themselves, from the battery to the transmission.
Prideep then used his hands to reach out and grab components like the steering knuckle, removing it from the digital representation of the vehicle and turning it around to view the part from all sides. And because the 3D image is linked to the database, he showed that by virtually clicking on a component, all the engineering data for that part could be accessed.
“Anything that is there in the car, which is a physical object, we can see this in our high-energy scan,” Vachaparampil said. “It's exactly what the doctor sees in the hospital.”
Vachaparampil said it costs Caresoft approximately $4 million to gather the data for a full car, which the company then turns around sells to each customer for between $300,000 and $400,000. By comparison, it might cost a manufacturer $200,000 to buy and tear down a car, but it takes time and resources for a less “intelligent” result, he said.
“The value proposition is instead of you doing it yourself and getting 2D data or just photos and weights, you can buy this data and you can straightaway put it in your PLM,” he said. “They're not apples and apples comparison.”
In addition to the Tesla Model 3, Caresoft has analyzed the Tesla Model X and 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, and at the time of the Detroit show, it was examining the Jaguar I-PACE. “As the world is moving from ICE engines to electric vehicles, a lot of OEMs and Tier Ones and Tier Twos are interested in what it takes to build an electric vehicle and the inner workings,” Vachaparampil said.
Use-cases for the technology include manufacturing training, service, support, and even sales and marketing, he said. Vachaparampil described how Chinese consumers increasingly skip the dealership to buy online. Caresoft’s VR improves the experience by allowing buyers to examine cars in their home or office. The company also is looking to extend to web conferencing, enabling multiple parties in different locations to view 3D scans.
“I think by the end of this year, every OEM will be using our technology as standard because it's [like] the transition from a Nokia phone to an iPhone,” Vachaparampil said. He added that he believes the technology will help bridge the gap between the leaders and the followers—and that’s a good thing. “It’s very, very powerful, and our whole idea here is to democratize the data and make it available to everybody.”