Windsor VR CAVE to help in development of concept car

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Windsor Star/Dave Battagello


Windsor area parts manufacturers and local Virtual Reality CAVE will play a vital role in development of a new Canadian-made, zero-emission concept car launched Tuesday in a high-profile announcement by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association.

Project Arrow, an APMA initiative, will be a fully Canadian collaborative effort involving the best engineers, designers and parts producers in the nation’s automotive supply sector and post-secondary institutions to create an electric-drive, alternative-fuel, autonomous concept vehicle.

APMA President Flavio Volpe estimates up to one-third of the Arrow’s parts will be sourced from the Windsor area by the time the vehicle is unveiled next year.

“Windsor is the beating heart of the Canadian auto sector,” Volpe said. “I can think of no other better place to take the first pulse of the Arrow.”

The Canadian and Ontario governments are helping support the effort.

Based on a design brought forward by a team at Carleton University, development of the vehicle will feature Ontario Tech University as a lead partner with the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation’s VR CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) helping bring it to life through testing.

The cave is operated out of WEEDC’s Institute for Border Logistics and Security.

The concept car’s “digital twin” will be tested in the cave, allowing designers and engineers working on the project to look at data and make adjustments while working toward the finished product, said Matt Johnson, the institute’s executive director.

“It will give us the ability to visualize the design in every environment,” he said. “Designers and engineers will be able to make real-time changes to the design and they can be deployed in the VR cave.

“They will be able to see which update to a part doesn’t work and make changes in real time. It will allow for a collaborative process where people can come and work together to make updates.”

Allowing technical staff to join together in the virtual environment offered at the CAVE provides the city with a unique advantage of such ambitious projects as Project Arrow, said Stephen MacKenzie, CEO for the economic development corporation.

“The VR CAVE is a tremendous asset for our community and partnerships like this put a flag in the ground that shows Windsor-Essex is the Automobility Hub in Canada,” MacKenzie said.

Project Arrow will get under way immediately and will provide the Windsor area an advantage to further participate in the supply chain for electronic and zero emission vehicles after the concept car is unveiled, Johnson said.

“The goal of APMA is to showcase to the world that Canada can be an exceptional manufacturing country when it comes to electronic and zero emission vehicles,” he said.

Volpe credited his leadership team which “dreams big” at APMA for helping the national concept car project become reality.

“There is nothing we can not do when we decide to do it,” he said.