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Bentley Reinvents the Design of Future Vehicles with Virtual Prototyping for CAD/CAM

The design team at Bentley includes over 100 experts from around the world. They work closely with engineers, production experts and craftspeople. Every aspect of their car is scrutinized multiple times, with nothing left to chance. For them the use of virtual prototyping to prepare for CAD/CAM applications is not just a luxury but a necessity.

Since it was founded by W.O. Bentley in January 1919, Bentley Motors Ltd’s uncompromising vision has enabled them to achieve the highest levels of handcrafted luxury, with a clear, instantly recognizable bloodline running through all their cars. The launch of the new Bentayga was unique at Bentley as the goal was to redefine the SUV, a fast car, a good car the best in its class. A unique opportunity to deploy new tools for new horizons.

Virtual Reality was the keyword as Bentley was anticipating its power and its benefit, so in 2013, Bentley decided to start a STRIVE programme. STRIVE, stands for Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering and combines next generation technologies around virtual reality. With its SPEOS, THEIA RT and HIM suite of software, OPTIS was a key partner allowing Bentley Motors’ Engineering and Product Launch teams in the development and engineering design of new models to work collectively. OPTIS offers integrated solution of high fidelity simulation and immersive virtual prototypes. This solution enables to create processes for evaluation and, ultimately, application for the advancement of the automotive industry.

Mark Harding (Manufacturing Project Leader at Bentley) said: “OPTIS solutions were able to combine everything together and were at the heart of our decision centre addressing engineers, designers and for the first time, craftspeople altogether around virtual reality.”

One important challenge to replace a real car by a digital mock-up is to “validate” the virtual world in view to be sure you exactly perceive both virtual and real world the same way. This is the only way to ensure taking the right decision. Part of the project was to compare those two worlds and visualisation, perspective, 3D view and size of the car are all contributing to the realism. Thanks to OPTIS physics simulation approach, the accuracy of the virtual world was reaching Bentley’s expectations which opened the door to virtual world.

Customers are intransigent regarding quality and quality is of highest importance at Bentley.
Years before the car exists, through virtual reality, OPTIS solutions have enabled validation of perfect alignment of doors, wings, lamps, chromes and door locks. Any part of the car is perfectly aligned which is a challenge as Bentley’s cars are often longer than any others. Thanks to SPEOS high fidelity visualization and virtual reality immersion outside and inside the future vehicle, all participants were able to share their perception and make decisions regarding shapes, tolerances, materials and colours. Even mood lighting has been adjusted to perfection. 


As based on optical simulation and real-life measured material, THEIA RT real time visualization from OPTIS allows you to visualize in every detail how selected material will be perceived under any lighting condition. What is important for the appearance of the car is also important for the ergonomics of the cockpit: cluster, navigation, entertainment system and surrounding material have been all studied to improve driver and passenger’s experience. Adding new technologies on board is a good thing. But what is more important is the manner you deliver it. Each piece of technology has been seamlessly integrated into the vehicle to offer intelligent functionality maximizing safety by improving reachability and also enhancing legibility of displayed information. With OPTIS human vision simulation, you can really perceive what the future driver will see and avoid light reflexion on any part of the car.

For every new car, Bentley had to create the associated production line. At Bentley, more than any other car manufacturer human is the most important resource. All skills have to be combined together to produce the best car. Before building the production line, Bentley deployed HIM solution from OPTIS to model the line in virtual reality and study any gesture in view to maximize safety and comfort of operators when building the car. The best way to make dreams happen.

During the STRIVE program, Bentley was able to explore all virtual reality technologies deployed at Virtual Engineering Centre in Daresbury and to develop robust processes. Thanks to the adoption of innovative technologies like virtual reality into its design process, Bentley has been able to open new doors for the design of sportive and elegant vehicles and to perfect his cars, by virtually experiencing many variants of shape and material, of on-board technologies, multiplying test and improving both safety and quality for the benefit of their customers.

In all these applications, visual realism provided by OPTIS’ solutions was key in the acceptance of virtual reality as it is important to really feel the future product and to perfectly immerge designers into the virtual world. Bentley has recently deployed a brand new virtual reality centre in their headquarters in CREWE where all employees can test and validate proposed new options.

About Bentley Motors
Part of the Volkswagen Group since 1998, Bentley Motor Cars Ltd are based in Crewe, Cheshire in the North West of England.  It employs over 4,000 permanent staff and produces over 12,000 cars a year with a total of 11 different  models.
Unlike many car makers today Crewe take their own Leather Hides and Burr Walnut wood and cuts, sews and polishes the materials with great detail and craftsmanship.  The purpose is to exploit technology and advanced engineering such as VR but maintain its core craft skills self evident in the finishes it’s vehicles.

 About OPTIS
OPTIS, the virtual prototyping company, brings life and emotion to all industrial projects. Its world-leading solutions pave the way for a revolutionary design process: towards zero physical prototype. Since 1989, OPTIS offers its know-how in light and human vision simulation into famous CAD/CAM software and dedicated virtual immersive solutions. This synergy creates true-to-life virtual mockups which are used as real decision-making tools. Today, more than 2500 clients in over 50 countries already trust OPTIS and innovate day after day with its solutions to ensure the look and safety of their designs, reduce their ecological footprint and bring their future products faster on the market.

The aim of the three year “Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering” (STRIVE) project, was to facilitate a ‘step change’ in UK automotive manufacturing, enhancing product design to support improvements in manufacturing productivity whilst retaining and improving build quality.

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