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Embracing the Present and Future of Simulation
By BRIAN MCMURRAY, VICE PRESIDENT, ENGINEERING AND OPERATIONS, GENERAL MOTORS
The automotive industry has seen shifts since the 1960s, from the time when design-build-test was the standard practice to the present day where simulation is the norm. In fact, the movie, ‘The Imitation Game’ talks about the device envisioned by Turing that served as a starting point for the concept of modern computing.
Mathematical modeling and simulation emerged in its importance during World War II, and since then it has only gained further momentum
Organizations in the defense sector, aerospace, and automobile engineering rely on incorporating simulation in their product development process. There is a need to be bolder in design, more confident in our processes, and most importantly, quicker in decision making. Here is where the use of simulation helps in reducing lead time in designing concepts and saving costs involved by reducing the number of physical prototypes. By using historical data and advancements in computing ability, we can now more accurately predict how the real world behaves better than ever before.
I interact with passionate people in this field, and over the years, I have recognized the importance of teams that drive simulation solutions that make cars safer, smarter, and more enjoyable to the customers.
Working towards satisfying aggressive regulations on occupant safety, vehicle emissions, and groundbreaking self-driving technology can be made possible only with large scale implementation of simulation technologies in the automotive industry.
Not Only Do Advances in Simulation Verify Design Requirements with High Fidelity, the Reduction in Human Effort Provides the Time to Engage Engineering Problems with a More Human-Centric Approach
Today, we can explore variations that occur in manufacturing, material properties, and their behavior with powerful simulation tools. The advantage of this ‘predictive engineering’ has strengthened the roots of systems engineering in today’s world; verification of the design intent can be executed with ease. Not only businesses but the global population also reaps the benefits of what simulation offers in various fields. Right from pilot training on state-of-the-art simulators to low-cost affordable VR available in the living room, powerful mathematical tools developed by smart people provide a user experience that is now more visual, more interactive, and more accurately correlates with the real world.
Engineers look forward to using simulation tools that are user-friendly, self-meshing, and self-analyzing. Lines of code in a program now empower a machine to think by itself and learn—the ability to be intuitive. This paves the way for us to look at simulating tools, as a natural extension of our gift of thinking. Not only do advances in simulation verify design requirements with high fidelity, but the reduction in human effort provides the time to engage engineering problems with a more human-centric approach. This brings us to a very interesting topic, about how humans and machine can synergize to get the best of both worlds.
The future of simulation and its use revolves around expectations from the humans who are empowered by it. We still need people to not just be masters of the tool but continue to advance the mastery of engineering. All those exabytes of data and staggering processing power need the intervention of human thinking and creativity to be used in the right direction. A synchronized interaction between humans and powerful software is quintessential for the future of simulation in our daily lives. Verifying sophisticated designs still needs to be validated by human touch for ergonomics, aesthetics, and the likes. Human creativity still supersedes the intuition of the machine—it is important to remember this narrative.