The value of simulation and immersive virtual reality environments to design decision making in new product development
Robotham, A; Shao, F
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In response to the need to develop more sophisticated, higher quality products product developers are more and more expecting engineering simulations to provide them with the data, information, and knowledge required to make design decisions. Engineering simulations provide insight into the behaviour of virtual product designs and have the capacity to be executed many thousands of times to provide a comprehensive coverage of the solution space being explored. However, engineering simulations are only representative of a reduced set of product properties and are bound by the constraints imposed by the fidelity of the underlying physics of the simulation tools being used. In this paper, we will briefly explore a number of different types of engineering simulation that the Virtual Engineering Centre has been involved in creating and consider the value that the data, information and knowledge that each creates to the decision making process. We will also explore how different visualisation methods being used at the Virtual Engineering Centre support decision making by individuals and groups of people in a design review context. Specifically, we will discuss the use of immersive virtual reality in reviewing simulation results and highlight the limitations of using this technology in group decision making using a case study taken from our work with Bentley Motors. We will conclude that whilst virtual technologies provide opportunities to generate data and information early in the product development process, the ever increasing demands for accuracy and fidelity in representation in mature product sectors outstrips the capability of the technology to fully support decision making in a complete virtual world.