How Automakers Borrow Ideas from Moviemakers to Build Safer Cars

by Adam Scraba

Automakers have long used GPUs to build better-looking cars. Now, Honda’s using them to create safer ones.

It’s an important problem. Over 30,000 people die each year in U.S. car crashes. 1.2 million die worldwide.

That’s why Honda R&D Americas has started using NVIDIA Quadro GPUs in a new way. They’re creating computer-generated footage of simulated car crashes, giving engineers deeper insights into structural behavior.

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To do that, they’re harnessing the same technology used to render computer-generated movie effects.

Of course, it’s not news that carmakers use NVIDIA GPUs just about everywhere.

Designers use Quadro-powered workstations to create and visualize cars. GPUs speed up the 3D computer-aided design (CAD) tools used to design automotive assemblies. And GPUs power infotainment and driver assistance systems.

What’s surprising is how automakers are taking ideas from moviemakers to help build safer cars.

Working with 3DXCITE and LS-DYNA, Honda is using our GPUs to integrate visualization with their crash-simulation software. These photo-realistic videos help designers see and understand energy dissipation behavior sooner.

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That’s because as a vehicle reacts to a collision, a wave of energy flows through the vehicle. These deformation patterns are like ripples on water. They’re far easier to visualize with realistic lighting. And if engineers can see them, they know where to focus their efforts with more traditional tools.

See this in action in the video below.

And learn more here.

So, next time you stop to appreciate the curves on the latest cars, know that NVIDIA GPUs are helping to make them not just prettier but safer.