Mercedes-Benz and NVIDIA have teamed up to introduce digital twins across the former’s production factories, it was revealed on Wednesday.
The new partnership will leverage NVIDIA’s Omniverse industrial metaverse platform to boost its manufacturing efficiency. With the new digital twins, Mercedes-Benz aims to save money, time, and energy in the production process, Jörg Burzer, Board Member, Mercedes-Benz Group, said in a recent news briefing.
News of the partnership comes after NVIDIA introduced changes to its Omniverse platform. A key addition to the platform has been support for the Universal Scene Description (USD) format to boost interoperability and standardisation for open metaverse technologies.
NVIDIA, OpenUSD, and the Automotive Metaverse
Product developers, engineers, and other professionals can incorporate the USD-based digital twins in their computer-aided design (CAD) workflows. This will allow them to collaborate in real-time across remote distances rather than via in-office environments, allowing instantaneous changes to company schematics.
Manufacturing plants set to receive the Omniverse include Rastatt, Germany, Beijing, China, and Kecskemét, Hungary. Over 30 additional factories across the world could receive upgrades in the near future.
‘Digital First’ is our new approach for production, using innovative techniques including the digital twin, to plan, retool and ramp-up production of our new models based on the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) at our factories in Rastatt, Kecskemét and Beijing.#MercedesBenz pic.twitter.com/nwtjDrVqXE
— Mercedes-Benz (@MercedesBenz) September 20, 2023
For the new “digital first” design method, Mercedez-Benz will use its MO360 production system to trial the emerging technologies.
Rev Lebaredian, Vice President of Omniverse and Simulation Technology, NVIDIA, said in a statement,
“Using Nvidia Omniverse and AI, Mercedes-Benz is building a connected, digital-first approach to optimize its manufacturing processes, ultimately reducing construction time and production costs”
For example, the announcement states that the Rastatt plant in Germany can work towards innovating paint shop digital productions. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the company monitored processes across the production trial, revealing up to 20 percent in energy savings.
An additional new feature includes the Mercedes-Benz operating system (MB.OS), which the automotive pioneer will use as a standard OS across all vehicles. It will also provide major software capabilities for vehicles.
The partnership will also see fleets leveraging NVIDIA Drive Orin and Drive software, which operates the firm’s connected and intelligent car systems. The two platforms also leverage NVIDIA Omniverse.
“Mercedes-Benz is initiating a new era of automotive manufacturing thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence, MB.OS and the digital twin based on Nvidia Omniverse into the MO360 ecosystem. With our new ‘Digital First’ approach, we unlock efficiency potential even before the launch of our MMA models in our global production network and can accelerate the ramp-up significantly”
Using Disruptive Technologies to Prepare for Disruptions
NVIDIA’s technologies can also allow factories to prepare for critical issues, avoiding major shutdowns while operating. This has become essential following the COVID-19 pandemic, which created significant supply chain issues and operational disruptions due to a shortage of parts and components.
Furthermore, the Kecskemét, Hungary plant will roll out a full digital twin of its factory. Suppliers and planners of the plant can interact in real time to change layout and automation processes with instantaneous validation.
This can save the factory massive amounts of time, reducing approval, planning, and implementation to weeks, saving the company millions in the process.
“We’ve introduced the digital twin in production. The digital twin allows us to retool and ramp up production of the new MO360 platform in our factories right around the corner” in Germany, Hungary and China. The company designed a virtual factory in Russia, but it will not proceed with that and instead will use it as the blueprint for its global production network. In addition, the production of artificial intelligence opens up new possibilities and opportunities for energy and cost savings”
NVIDIA Omniverse Updates
In a press conference attended by XR Today in August, Lebaredian explained that industrial enterprises were “racing to reinvent themselves,” adding that demand for enterprise and industrial metaverse technologies were “enormous.”
He explained that vertical set to see the greatest adoption rates were manufacturing, transport, and telecoms at $46 trillion, $10 trillion, and $2 trillion USD.
The OpenUSD platform would connect the market’s largest “design, computer-aided design, and simulation tool ecosystems” from major tech providers like Autodesk, Siemens, Adobe, PTC, and Epic Games, he added.
Autonomous vehicles also benefit from NVIDIA’s ISAAC SIM and DRIVE SIM application programme interfaces (APIs) across its technology stack.
The news comes as the motoring industry rises as a major vertical for XR technologies, with companies like Meta Platforms, holoride, BMW, NVIDIA, Basemark, CrossHelmet, Varjo, and many others incorporating innovative solutions for their respective use cases.