Many manufacturing companies realised that the most effective way to leverage niche talent is to establish a team in the heart of the segment. From video game makers to chocolatiers, companies relocate their offices to seek specific talents and also to have a better local feel.
Automakers do the same thing too. Southern California is known for its fanatical car culture and the place has become like a capital city for automakers seeking a better taste of the region’s automotive passion. Volvo, BMW and Nissan have their design studios there. There is no place on this planet that is more synonymous with high tech than Northern California's Silicon Valley.
Located in Belmont, California, is the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Laboratory. Established in August of 1998 with just three employees, the lab is tasked with developing innovation and technologies for future generations of cars and also to transfer technologies from many industries into the automotive world.
The Electronics Research Laboratory works on multiple programs simultaneously and the place is divided into five teams. Each team is focused on a certain topic which includes, Driver Assistance Systems (DAS), Human Machine Interface (HMI), Infotainment Platforms, Infotainment Software and Test Concepts and Validation (TCV).
In one of the rooms, a virtual driving simulator (with a full-size car positioned behind several flat screen displays) is situated. The huge driving simulator utilises a series of cameras to observe the driver for tell-tale signs that they're falling asleep or not concentrating.
In another area of the laboratory, there is a tooling shop to build prototypes. On top of the milling machine and a collection of assorted tools, the place has a stereo lithography machine that's capable of generating accurate three-dimensional resin objects from digital computer plans. The machine takes technical prints and prints them on liquid resin with an ultraviolet laser to form solid, hard parts.
Other ERL projects include work on intelligent self-guided vehicles, virtual interfaces, multimedia projects and testing long term reliability. The facility has also partnered with Virginia Tech and Stanford University on co-development programs for the future.
The Electronics Research Laboratory currently has over 100 staff which includes engineers, social scientists, researchers and product designers and the facility serves all of the group’s brands (Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini and etc.)
Photo credit: Michael Harley (AOL)
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