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Mercedes-Benz thinks Nvidia's Omniverse can help with manufacturing

German automaker gets deeper into the GPU giant's hardware and software ecosystem

CES Mercedes-Benz thinks it can create accurate digital twin simulations using Nvidia's Omniverse software to streamline automotive manufacturing operations.

The German automaker's plan to use Omniverse to "design and plan manufacturing and assembly facilities" was disclosed this week at CES, according to Nvidia.

"By tapping into Nvidia AI and metaverse technologies, the automaker can create feedback loops to reduce waste, decrease energy consumption and continuously enhance quality," wrote Danny Shapiro, Nvidia's vice president of automotive.

Omniverse is what Nvidia calls an "open 3D development platform" that can be used for creating digital twin simulations, and it's part of the GPU giant's ambition to build a massive software business through subscriptions and upgrades that generates more money than its hardware.

This marks the latest investment made by Mercedes-Benz in Nvidia's expanding portfolio of hardware products and software services. The automaker has already said that it plans to use Nvidia's Drive Orin system-on-chip to power automated driving functions in cars entering the market in 2024, and the company is also using Nvidia's Drive Sim software in Omniverse to simulate such capabilities.

With the latest move, Mercedes-Benz is expanding its use of Omniverse and hoping the platform can help it react faster to changes in production by simulating them in software first. These changes can range from having to switch out components due to supply issues or rolling out a new car model.

The ability to simulate these changes in Omniverse, according to Nvidia, will prevent the automaker from having to interrupt operations.

Mercedes-Benz is expected to use Omniverse to set up a "digital-first" planning process for electric vehicle production at its plant in Rastatt, Germany. This is intended to allow the automaker to avoid production disruptions, and it's expected to expand the process to other plants over time, Nvidia said.

"With Omniverse, Mercedes-Benz planners can access the digital twin of the factory, reviewing and optimizing the plant as needed. Every change can be quickly evaluated and validated in the virtual world, then implemented in the real world to ensure maximum efficiency and ergonomics for factory workers," Shapiro claimed.

A growing number of businesses are buying into Omniverse, but its long-term success will rely on how accurate the platform's simulations are and whether Nvidia can prove that the software can provide a good enough return on investment.

British consultancy Challenge Advisory has warned that inaccurately representing objects using digital twin technologies represents a significant risk for businesses.

"The other major concern that troubles most company owners who are keen on trying out digital twin is doubt regarding the overall accuracy of the simulation the technology will build," the company said. ®

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