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Mercedes-Benz Navigates a Virtual Future

With the NVIDIA Omniverse™ platform, Mercedes-Benz can design and optimize manufacturing plants and vehicles virtually.

With the NVIDIA Omniverse™ platform, Mercedes-Benz can design and optimize manufacturing plants and vehicles virtually.

Image courtesy of NVIDIA.

Mercedes-Benz is using the NVIDIA Omniverse platform to create digital twins that the company will use to design and operate manufacturing and assembly facilities.

In January during CES 2023, Mercedes-Benz announced that the company would leverage Omniverse to build a digital twin of its new Rastatt, Germany factory (which will produce its new electric vehicle platform.) Using Omniverse to design and plan its manufacturing facilities will allow the company to rapidly simulate new facility configurations virtually.

The company has now released more details about the project, which NVIDIA shared in a recent blog posting.

Omniverse is a scalable development platform that helps enterprises to build and operate real time 3D applications for industrial digitalization. Omniverse allows geographically distributed teams to connect their design and simulation software and data via unified, OpenUSD-based 3D pipelines and develop custom tools and applications through which they can collaboratively visualize and simulate large-scale virtual environments.

At Mercedes-Benz, Omniverse will help enable the launch of its next-gen vehicle portfolio at the Rastatt plant, as well as facilities in Hungary and China. This digital-first approach extends to the vehicles themselves – the new vehicles based on the Mercedes Modular Architecture are also developed virtually in Omniverse. The plant-level digital twins will help the company configure, optimize and retool plants more effectively using simulation.

Those capabilities will be critical to help the company launch its MO360 production system, in which the automaker plans to produce electric, hybrid and gas vehicles on the same production lines. The Omniverse-based digital twins help the company optimize factory floor and production line layouts during the planning phase, and to test out changes on production lines without disrupting operations.

According to the blog, Mercedes-Benz estimates that Omniverse will help it reduce coordination processes by 50%, and double the speed for converting or constructing an assembly hall. The company also cited the use of artificial intelligence in facility planning, noting that using AI to monitor sub-processes in the paint shop created an energy savings of 20%.

“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,” said Rev Lebaredian, vice president of Omniverse and simulation technology at NVIDIA.

Collaboration in Omniverse has enabled plant suppliers and planners to interact with each other interactively in the virtual environment, so that layout options and automation changes can be incorporated and validated in real time. This accelerates how quickly new production lines can reach maximum capacity and reduces the risk of re-work or stoppages.

The Omniverse connection goes deep at Mercedes-Benz. The next-generation vehicles are built around a new operating system (MB.OS), and NVIDIA has provided the company with its DRIVE Orin system-on-a-chip and DRIVE software. The company also was able to test and validate intelligent driving capabilities in the vehicles using the Omniverse-based NVIDIA DRIVE Sim platform.

The Kecskemét plant is the first with a full digital twin of the entire factory. This virtual area enables development at the heart of assembly, between its tech and trim lines. And plans are for the new Kecskemét factory hall to launch into full production.

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