Battery Maker Hyperbat Joins With Ericsson, BT, Qualcomm, NVIDIA On ‘First’ 5G-VR Tool


By James Blackman

UK-based vehicle battery manufacturer Hyperbat has claimed a “world-first” industrial virtual reality (VR) solution for manufacturing using a private 5G network. It is working with BT and Ericsson on the network setup. Qualcomm is providing its Snapdragon XR2 platform into the VR headset, plus cloud-based  hardware and software from NVIDIA.

Hyperbat is a joint venture between Williams Advanced Engineering and Unipart Manufacturing Group, and is based at Unipart’s manufacturing plant in Coventry. It was formed to manufacture high voltage battery solutions for hybrid and electric vehicle production, and claims to be the UK’s largest independent vehicle battery manufacturer.

The new industrial VR solution allows users to work with 1:1 scale ‘digital-twin’ holograms of designs in-situ, from wherever they are. It will enable reduced product cycle times and easier collaboration between design, engineering, and manufacturing teams based in Coventry and Oxfordshire, and bridge the gap between low volume prototype build and high volume hybrid and electric vehicle production.

The solution, billed as a “world-first untethered 5G native experience”, was revealed at the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC) last week. The setup allows engineering teams to interact in real time with life-size 3D models through a single VR device, without a wired connection.

The 5G setup has been “integrated” by Ericsson’s D-15 Lab in Santa Clara, in California. The headset, itself, running the Radical computer-aided design (CAD) platform from UK-based industrial software firm Masters of Pie, incorporates ‘split rendering’ where all perception-based data is held locally on the device, but the computing is handled in the cloud, and streamed by NVIDIA’s CloudXR and RTX virtual workstation (vWS) solutions.

The solution is near completion, to be demonstrated and trialled at Hyperbat’s facility in Coventry, with results from the collaboration expected in early summer.

Digital and innovation manager at Unipart Manufacturing, Hosein Torabmostaedi said: ‘‘The solution is mainly targeted at collaborative mobile workforce with the use of 5G native headsets and seamless integration of design and manufacturing systems with the digital twin technologies. Hyperbat also hopes  to extend the solution to the use of 5G connectivity for machines to enable configurable and flexible production lines.”

Senior manager for 5G innovation in BT’s enterprise unit, Jeremy Spencer said: “5G connectivity and edge compute [are] very much here, now, delivering real business benefits for our customers. When combined with the latest tech, [5G] can produce incredible efficiency gains – so important as the UK manufacturing sector recovers from Covid-19. It will also bring a welcome boost to many other industries where collaboration is required.”

Chief technology officer for networks and managed services at Ericsson in the UK and Ireland, Björn Odenhammar said: “This collaboration… is another demonstration of how low latency, edge compute and wireless networking will be critical to digitalisation within the enterprise sector. By delivering operational efficiencies through 5G technology, we are laying a foundation that can help to drive innovation in manufacturing, boost the economy and position the UK as a leading 5G nation.”

Director of virtual and augmented reality at NVIDIA, David Weinstein said: “Bringing remote teams together in VR to collaborate and refine manufacturing processes will produce great efficiencies and innovations. This solution… will enable real-time immersion for teams both on the factory floor and remotely.”

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