But don't worry, humans will always be involved in design.
Honda is turning to the wonders of virtual reality (VR) to design the next generation of exciting new vehicles. The Honda Prologue EV is the first major fruit of the technology in action.
While the digital simulated experience is closely associated with gaming and interactive displays, Honda designers and engineers were inspired to use the technology after COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions hindered their ability to work together on the Prologue, an all-new electric SUV that was recently unveiled.
Stylists at the Honda Design Studio in Los Angeles implemented the use of VR, essentially bridging the gap between the international development teams littered across the globe. The LA-based team collaborated with engineers and designers by using a VR environment with a computer-aided design model.
This enabled them to receive instant feedback and implement changes to the clay modeling, color, and more. As a result, the vehicle wasn't hampered by delays and, according to Honda, advanced the team's capabilities.
"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," explains Honda's Mathieu Geslin. "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."
That was certainly the case with the new Honda Pilot, which was redesigned for MY2023. It's the first production model where VR was used for product evaluation. Among the tests conducted in a VR environment was the color evaluation, which allowed designers to view materials, finishes, and colors and provide feedback to each other.
"Virtual reality prototyping removed limitations to the interior design and allowed us to address feedback quicker and collaborate more cohesively," said the company's Lisa Lee.
Interestingly, VR technology allowed designers to easily visualize an unlimited number of color and material applications and then discuss the various finishes almost instantly. While the COVID-19 pandemic gave the teams no choice, Honda has been dabbling in the virtual reality realm for quite some time.
The automaker's design team first saw the potential of VR as a development tool six years ago and has been testing and exploring the technology ever since. This groundwork stood Honda in good stead when the pandemic hit in 2020. This doesn't mean that future Hondas will be designed exclusively in the world of virtual reality, though.
"We don't want to lose emotion and the human touch to Honda design, so we won't pursue a purely digital approach, but we are really excited about the Honda products that will be coming to customers in the future by leveraging VR technology," added Mathieu.
It would come as no surprise to find out that future Honda EV products will be designed in a similar way.
The Prologue will be the first new all-electric Honda to hit America for quite some time and it looks rather promising. It's quite the looker and will feature a truly spacious interior filled with nice-to-haves, such as a fully-digital driver's display and an 11.3-inch infotainment screen. You'll have to wait until 2024 for it to arrive, but Honda is convinced CR-V Hybrid buyers will be lining up to get their hands on one.
In fact, the automaker is setting up a unique two-year lease deal in certain states, whereby lessees of the CR-V hybrid will be able to move into the Prologue as soon as it arrives.