During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions threatened Honda's timeline for launching new products. Seeking a way to get engineers in the room with the design studio, the company turned to immersive virtual reality (VR) technology.
Using VR, the Honda Design Studio in LA collaborated with different global engineering teams and design groups, creating computer-aided design models. This approach allowed immediate feedback, allowing the teams to make real-time changes in developing the 2023 Honda Pilot and 2024 Honda Prologue EV.
"Incorporating virtual and augmented reality in the design process allowed our Honda engineers and designers to merge digital content and physical assets in a cohesive way to interact with what they're experiencing and touching in an immersive environment," said Mathieu Geslin, Honda Design Studio's VR technology leader. "Honda Prologue was key to fully using VR in a data-led design process, with clay modeling as the verification tool, something we will carry forward into the development of other Honda products."
While the Honda Prologue also utilized a full-size exterior clay model to refine the details, its interior design development was primarily conducted using VR. Honda says these virtual methods transformed the design process, providing better visualization and collaboration.
The design team also leveraged the technology for a 2023 Honda Pilot product evaluation. This approach allowed a holistic review of color, materials, finishes, and trims. As a result, the design studios in LA and Japan were able to provide immediate feedback and make changes in real time.
Honda's design team started exploring VR as a possibility six years ago, testing it to find a new, more efficient way to create products. This work enabled the team to deploy the technology during the COVID pandemic.
The new 2023 Honda Pilot goes on sale this week with a base price of $39,150. It replaces the third-generation model, which debuted in 2016. The Prologue EV is expected to launch in 2024.